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Happy Halloween!

The traditional European festivals of Hallowe’en, Samhain, the Feast of the Dead and All Soul’s Eve’ are celebrated on or around October 31st in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, this is the seasonal equivalent of our May Day. Samhain, the hallowed eve’ (or Halloween) marks the true end of Summer and the beginning of Winter’s quarter of the year, the portion of the year dedicated to the night forces. Persephone assumes her role as Queen in the underworld and according to tradition, this is when the dead walk among us and return to their homes.

Celebrations honoring the dead, both departed loved ones and scary ghosts, are found as far back as ancient Egypt and within as varied cultural groups as the Iroquois and Huron in the New World, and the Celts, Romans,  Britons in the Old.  I haven’t found any evidence that Central American countries celebrated this holiday until after the Spanish Conquest but they’ve made up for lost time with their three day El Dias de los Muertas. All of these festivals take place between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, although the Huron festival was only celebrated every fifteenth year or when the tribe made a major geographical move, leaving behind the bones of the departed.

This year’s Day of the Dead festival will end with a total Solar Eclipse on November 3. It will be visible from the South Eastern part of the US. Check it out on Time and Date.com

Commemorate this time by listening to Mozart’s Requiem and lighting a candle to honor your ancestors, your teachers, those explorers who have gone before and who walk among us this night.  Watch some movies dealing with the supernatural: The Wizard of Oz, The Gift, Sixth Sense, Stir of Echoes, or Dead Again are some of my favorites.

Click here to read some great articles about Halloween, curses and zombies from Archeology Magazine.

Click here for local events from the Seattle PI.

So Mozart’s Requiem Mass is one of my favorite pieces of music in the whole world. Below is the complete Karl Bohm version from YouTube and it is beautiful, very lyrical and grand. We have several versions and the one of Peter Shreier conducting the Leipzig Radio Chorus from 1983 is actually the one I would recommend over this one so if you are looking to add it to your collection, get that one. I have listened to it hundreds of times and it still both gives me goosebumps and brings me to tears. I just looked it up on Amazon for you and … Interesting, I’m glad I’m not completely off base, it is considered good by much better informed listeners than I. Click here to read about the Schreier Requiem.

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Welcome Autumn!

Have you noticed the change in the light? The sun is already much lower in the sky at noon. Even though it still feels like Summer, the Equinox is upon us so get ready for what is known in Seattle as the season of Rain, also known as the season of Dark. Years ago my friend Jules commented that she missed the “real” seasons of Montana. I countered that we have seasons here, but she replied, ‘Inga, mold is not a season.’ That still makes me chuckle whenever I think of it.

September 22nd is the Autumnal Equinox: The day the Sun enters Libra and the beginning of Autumn. In the same way that the Solstice marks the days of longest and shortest “light,” the Equinoxes mark the day of equal light. Nox is the Roman goddess of night so equinox literally means “equal night.” The glyph for Libra represents the setting sun expressing the balance between night and day. According to tradition, the Sun is “exalted” in Aries while halfway through its circuit along the ecliptic, it is in “fall” in Libra, Aries’ opposite sign.

Read the rest of this entry »


Frost on the Rose Leaves

Frost on the Rose Leaves

Don’t you just love how those dark, drab Autumn colors turn into Christmas colors with that bit of white frosting around their edges? So pretty!


Welcome Autumn!

Have you noticed the change in the light? The sun is already much lower in the sky at noon. Even though it still feels like Summer, the Equinox is upon us so get ready for what is known in Seattle as the season of Rain, also known as the season of Dark. Years ago my friend Jules commented that she missed the “real” seasons of Montana. I countered that we have seasons here, but she replied, ‘Inga, Mold is not a season.’ That still makes me chuckle whenever I think of it.

September 22nd is the Autumnal Equinox: The day the Sun enters Libra and the beginning of Autumn. In the same way that the Solstice marks the days of longest and shortest “light,” the Equinoxes mark the day of equal light. Nox is the Roman goddess of night so equinox literally means “equal night.” The glyph for Libra represents the setting sun expressing the balance between night and day. According to tradition, the Sun is “exalted” in Aries while halfway through its circuit along the ecliptic, it is in “fall” in Libra.

Read the rest of this entry »


Welcome Autumn!

I am not feeling ready to welcome Autumn this year because it seems like Summer just arrived in Seattle. But, the Equinox is upon us so even though it still feels like Summer, it is time to get ready for the days to get shorter and for cooler weather to set in.

September 23rd is the Autumnal Equinox: The day the Sun enters Libra and the beginning of Autumn. In the same way that the Solstice marks the days of longest and shortest “light,” the Equinoxes mark the day of equal light. Nox is the Roman goddess of night so equinox literally means “equal night.” The glyph for Libra represents the setting sun expressing the balance between night and day. According to tradition, the Sun is “exalted” in Aries while halfway through its circuit along the ecliptic, it is in “fall” in Libra.

Read the rest of this entry »


Welcome Autumn!

September 22nd is the Autumnal Equinox: the day the Sun enters Libra, and the beginning of Autumn. In the same way that the Solstice marks the days of longest and shortest “light,” the Equinoxes mark the day of equal light. Nox is the Roman goddess of night so equinox literally means “equal night.” The glyph for Libra represents the setting sun expressing the balance between night and day. The rising of the constellation Libra marked the beginning of the New Year in ancient Egypt. Equinoxes are the two points in the year (March 19-21 and September 21-23) when the Sun crosses the celestial equator. At these times, day and night in Northern and Southern hemispheres are of equal length. The spring (vernal) equinox occurs midway between the Winter and Summer solstices; the Autumnal equinox occurs midway between the Summer and Winter solstices. The Autumn equinoctial festival of Mabon mirrors the spring equinoctial festival of Oestara with the Light and Dark forces of the Universe switching ascendancy.

The goddess Persephone departs the earth to join her husband in the underworld. It is time to give thanks for the summer, and to welcome the impending dark. Traditionally, this is when some of the heaviest work of the agricultural year begins. The harvest is stored away, the farm animals are measured against their feed and decisions are made about how many to keep and how many to slaughter and eat. This is why so much Thanksgiving feasting goes on now. Preserved meat and fruit only last so long.

Symbols of Autumn:

Blackberries, cranberries, wine, gourds, pinecones, acorns, nuts, corn, apples, pomegranates, ivy

Foods of Autumn:

Breads, nuts, apples, squash, pomegranates, and pumpkin pie.

Colors of Autumn:

The colors of the sunset: violet, orange, russet, maroon, brown, and gold.

Stones of Autumn:

Libra is Pink tourmaline, opals and Rhodochrosite. Scorpio is topaz, bloodstones, garnets, and yellow agates. Sagittarius is turquoise and jasper.

Activities of Autumn:

Making wine, gathering seeds and seedpods, walking in the woods, Halloween, and Thanksgiving celebrations, Christmas shopping.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Celebrate the harvest, the beauty of Autumn, celebrate gratitude!

250 million – the preliminary estimate of turkeys raised in the United States in 2009. That’s 8 percent less than the number raised in 2008. (Source: USDA Agricultural Statistics Service)
709 million pounds – the forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2009. Wisconsin is expected to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 400 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (190 million). New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington are also expected to have substantial production, ranging from 16 million to 54 million pounds. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)
2.2 billion bushels – the total volume of wheat (the essential ingredient of bread, rolls, and pie crust) produced in the United States in 2009. North Dakota and Kansas accounted for 34 percent of the nation’s wheat production. (Source: USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service)

What did you learn in grade-school? I learned that Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims , who wore tall hats, leggings and big gold buckles on their shoes. They were starving when they landed at Plymouth Rock and the local “Indians”  taught them to place a dead fish into the ground with each corn seed that they intended to grow. The Pilgrims were so grateful that they invited the Indians to a harvest feast in late November and served turkey and pumpkin pie with a horn-of-plenty on their table as a center-piece. Obviously, every American school-teacher of the era taught something similar because the History.com website dispels all of these myths except the fish planting-technique. They go into a good amount of detail so I’ll refrain from paraphrasing and just recommend that you click the link. What did you learn about Thanksgiving?

Harvest Festivals are traditional to every cultural group and take many forms.  What they all have in common is the concept of gratitude to nature or to one’s gods who provided the harvest, the food that would sustain the clan or tribe until the next harvest.  This link to the BBC Harvest Festival site will give you some ideas that you may wish to incorporate into your own Thanksgiving celebration. I am grateful for my family, my friends and to WordPress for making blogging so easy!

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade heralds the beginning of the Christmas shopping season which begins the day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. Wiki says “the term “Black Friday” originated in Philadelphia in reference to the heavy traffic on that day. More recently, merchants and the media have used it instead to refer to the beginning of the period in which retailers go from being in the red (i.e., posting a loss on the books) to being in the black (i.e., turning a profit).” The US also has an anti-Thanksgiving component as many Native Americans and supporters spend a ‘Day of National Mourning’ at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts as they have each year on Thanksgiving Day since 1970. Here is a wickedly funny Reenactment of the First Thanksgiving by a group of kids, their writer, film-crew and a heck of a director. It reminded me of the second Addams Family movie.

Some Thanksgiving statistics:

250 million – the preliminary estimate of turkeys raised in the United States in 2009. That’s 8 percent less than the number raised in 2008. (Source: USDA Agricultural Statistics Service)

709 million pounds – the forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2009. Wisconsin is expected to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 400 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (190 million). New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington are also expected to have substantial production, ranging from 16 million to 54 million pounds. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

2.2 billion bushels – the total volume of wheat (the essential ingredient of bread, rolls, and pie crust) produced in the United States in 2009. North Dakota and Kansas accounted for 34 percent of the nation’s wheat production. (Source: USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service)

Links:

About.com article about the cornucopia

Wikipedia Thanksgiving link

History Channel Thanksgiving link

BBC Harvest Festival link

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade


Happy Halloween!

The traditional European festivals of Hallowe’en, Samhain, the Feast of the Dead and All Soul’s Eve’ are celebrated on or around October 31st in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, this is the seasonal equivalent of our May Day. Samhain, the hallowed eve’ (or Halloween) marks the true end of Summer and the beginning of Winter’s quarter of the year, the portion of the year dedicated to the night forces. Persephone assumes her role as Queen in the underworld and according to tradition, this is when the dead walk among us and return to their homes.

Celebrations honoring the dead, both departed loved ones and scary ghosts are found as far back as ancient Eypt and within as varied cultural groups as the Iroquois and Huron in the New World, and the Celts, Romans,  Britons in the Old.  I haven’t found any evidence that Central American countries celebrated this holiday until after the Spanish Conquest but they’ve made up for lost time with their three day El Dias de los Muertas. All of these festivals take place between the Autumn equinox and the Winter Solstice, although the Huron festival was only celebrated every fifteenth year or when the tribe made a major geographical move, leaving behind the bones of the departed.

Commemorate this time by listening to Mozart’s Requiem and lighting a candle to honor your ancestors, your teachers, those explorers who have gone before and who walk among us this night.  Watch some movies dealing with the supernatural: The Gift, Sixth Sense, Stir of Echoes, or Dead Again. This genre has something for every taste, check out the Halloween Movies category in my Amazon Favorites widget to the right.

Click for some hints from Shine for dealing with all that Halloween candy without blowing your diet.

Click here to read some great articles about Halloween, curses and zombies from Archeology Magazine.

Local events:

Northwest Symphony Orchestra’s Family & Halloween Concert
Friday, Oct. 30th, Burien-based Northwest Symphony Orchestra is presenting their Family & Halloween Concert at 7:30pm on  at the Highline Performing Arts Center.

Northwest Symphony Orchestra’s Family & Halloween Concert

Friday, Oct. 30th, Burien-based Northwest Symphony Orchestra is presenting their Family & Halloween Concert at 7:30pm on at the Highline Performing Arts Center. Click to read about it on the B-town Blog.

BOO in Burien

Saturday October 31, 2009 This is a safe trick-or-treating event for Burien families held from Noon to 5 pm along SW 152nd Street. Other activities include a costume parade for dogs, weiner dog races, Pumpkin Bowling, and a Haunted House. All Free for the entire family.

Day of the Dead “Night of 1,000 Pumpkins” in Burien

Burien’s Interim Art Space is hosting a special Day of the Dead “Night of 1,000 Pumpkins” celebration on Sunday, Nov. 1st. Click to read about it on the B-town Blog.

All Souls’ Day

St James is holding their usual Requiem Mass but they aren’t performing Mozart’s Requiem this year. They are featuring the music of French composer Maurice Duruflé and Ancient chants sung by the Women of St. James Schola at 7:30 on Monday, the 2nd of November. Click St James for details.


Thank you!

Thank you all for the fun party! It was great to see everyone and to catch up on news. Along with the usual snackage we served pumpkin pie in honor of Autumn and Rena brought a German chocolate cake, num. Kevin described a way to make a fruit-fly trap from a wine bottle.  We always have an infestation of fruit flies this time of year and we always have wine bottles around so I made one right away. You just pour some cider vinegar into the wine bottle and then tape a paper funnel into the neck. The fruit flies fly into the funnel but then can’t get back out. Here is the website of the University of Kentucky featuring this type of a trap, but the wine bottle looks much cooler than theirs does!

The Winter Solstice occurs on December 21, so our next party will be on Saturday, the 19th. If you want to know when those solstices and equinoxes happen, or if you’d like to know which stars are visible on a given evening, then it is time to order your Farmers Almanac for next year. Check out my favorite feature: the “best days” timetable. Don’t start 2010 without it!


The Autumnal Equinox

September 22nd is the Autumnal Equinox: the day the Sun enters Libra, and the beginning of Autumn.

libra2In the same way that the Solstice marks the days of longest and shortest “light,” the Equinoxes mark the day of equal light. Nox is the Roman goddess of night so equinox literally means “equal night.” The glyph for Libra represents the setting sun expressing the balance between night and day. The rising of the constellation Libra marked the beginning of the New Year in ancient Egypt. Equinoxes are the two points in the year (March 19-21 and September 21-23) when the Sun crosses the celestial equator. At these times, day and night in Northern and Southern hemispheres are of equal length. The spring (vernal) equinox occurs midway between the Winter and Summer solstices; the Autumnal equinox occurs midway between the Summer and Winter solstices. The Autumn equinoctial festival of Mabon mirrors the spring equinoctial festival of Oestara with the Light and Dark forces of the Universe switching ascendancy.

Persephone departs the earth to join her husband in the underworld. It is time to give thanks for the summer, and to welcome the impending dark. Traditionally, this is when some of the heaviest work of the agricultural year begins. The harvest is stored away, the farm animals are measured against their feed and decisions are made about how many to keep and how many to slaughter and eat. This is why so much Thanksgiving feasting goes on now. Preserved meat and fruit only last so long.

Symbols of Autumn:

Blackberries, wine, gourds, pinecones, acorns, grains, corn, apples, pomegranates, ivy

Foods of Autumn:

Breads, nuts, apples, squash, pomegranates, and root vegetables.

Colors of Autumn:

The colors of the sunset: violet, orange, russet, maroon, brown, and gold.

Stones of Autumn:

Libra is Pink tourmaline, opals and Rhodochrosite. Scorpio is topaz, bloodstones, garnets, and yellow agates. Sagittarius is turquoise and jasper.

Activities of Autumn:

Making wine, gathering seeds and seedpods, walking in the woods, Halloween, and Thanksgiving celebrations.


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