Thursday, October 30, 2008

He Epistole Update

From Laura, editrix of He Epistole:

Hello Everyone,

First - I want to thank everyone who has already given me submissions
for the next issue of He Epistole. I also appreciate all the help
with announcements to encourage participation.

Second - I have not yet done any layouts for this issue and I could
*still* use more content. I don't know how many pages I have so far,
but I know just by looking at the number of emails I've had so far
that I can certainly use some more.

I can especially use the follwoing:

poetry
artwork
photographs
fiction - if anyone has any.

The deadline for the next issue is pretty flexible. I'll take things
as late as November 21st.

Thanks!
Laura

The Daily Giggle


HumanForSale.com - Fun Survey

Guest post from the Velveteen Rabbi:

A Prayer for Voting - from R' David Seidenberg

Reb David Seidenberg has posted a revised 2008 version of his beautiful prayer for voting, in Hebrew and English. Here's the English version:


Prayer for Voting

With my vote today I am prepared and intending
to seek peace for this country, as it is written:

"Seek out the peace of the city where I cause you to roam
and pray for her sake to Yah Adonai, for in her peace you all will have peace."
(Jer. 29:7)

May it be Your will that votes will be counted faithfully
and may You account my vote as if I had fulfilled this verse with all my power.

May it be good in Your eyes to give a wise heart
to whomever we elect today
and may You raise for us a government whose rule is for good and blessing
to bring justice and peace to all the inhabitants of the world and to Jerusalem,
for rulership is Yours!

Just as I participated in elections today
so may I merit to do good deeds and repair the world with all my actions,
and with the act of...[fill in your pledge] which I pledge to do today
on behalf of all living beings and in remembrance of the covenant of Noah's waters
to protect and to not destroy the earth and her plenitude.

May You give to all the peoples of this country, the strength and will
to pursue righteousness and to seek peace as unified force
in order to cause to flourish, throughout the world, good life and peace
and may You fulfill for us the verse:

"May the pleasure of Yah Adonai our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands for us, may the work of our hands endure."
(Ps. 90:17)


You can find the prayer here; that page includes the English version alongside links to an interlinear Hebrew-and-English version in .doc and .pdf formats. I'm especially moved by the reference to Noah's waters -- as you know if you read this week's Torah poem (or if you keep up with the Jewish weekly lectionary), we're reading the story of Noah this week, which makes this feel all the more timely.

May we be blessed in in the process of democracy -- and in its outcome.

***

Allyson here. I don't always agree with the politics of others, but this prayer really struck a chord for me. It is civic-minded, a very Hellenic thing, imo. It is spiritual, but not overly religious (by which I mean that I did not feel that the prayer didn't apply to me because I am not Jewish; instead, I felt drawn in). And so I repeat this prayer, for all!

Blessings on this voting season. The choices are tough. Neither candidate is perfect. Some people favor one over the other, all for good reasons. Let us put away our emnity for one another, and embrace the fact that our country is built on change and diversity. No matter which candidate gets into office, he will attempt to do the best job he can - that is simply a part of the make-up of human beings. In order to reach the pinacle that these two men have, they must have basic decency, even if it's not always obvious during the campaign madness. No one who wants to do harm would have made it this far.

So let us pray that, whoever is in office, they work hard with their advisors and administrators, to straighten up the mess we're currently in. Let us pray that tolerance is the watchword of our new leader. Let us pray that personal beliefs held by our new leader remain just what they are - personal.

Amen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Noumenia & Wednesday ritual


On Wednesday evenings, I participate in a ritual along with the rest of the people from Neos Alexandria. Each of us does our own thing for our own Gods, and yet you can almost feel the viscosity of the ether as it stretches through each of us and touches the universe.

Tonight was an especially potent night for me, for many reasons. First, it was also Noumenia, the celebration of the first sliver of new moon appearing. Second, it is so very close to Hallows Eve. Third, and almost most importantly, it is the night I finally dedicated the new altar to Hestia for our home.

The altar was a subject of consternation. I wanted Hestia to be overlooking our kitchen, and yet she had to be out of the way enough that she didn't get things spilled onto or splattered onto her sacred space. I thought of a shelf by the wood stove, but it would have been dangerous (it gets VERY hot there). I contemplated a spot on the window right next to the wood stove, but it was within toddler reach, and that is always a dangerous thing.

Then Farnham and I hit on the right place - a small shelf that's above the area where I will be kneading our bread. It's perfect. It's small enough that it doesn't take up necessary space, but large enough to truly be an altar. The space looks down upon the entire kitchen in an almost regal manner, and yet is fully a part of the kitchen. I am very pleased.

We made an offering of wine into the woodstove, to Hestia, and were rewarded with a vast upflash of purplish-red flame. Wow. Then we offered barley, and the smell of it roasting filled the kitchen pleasantly.

After that was done, Farnham and I parted ways, and I went to my bedroom, where my personal shrines are. I did my usual Wednesday ritual, with a few private prayers that I'm not at liberty to talk about just yet. I feel very calm about it this week. It felt right. I even got my Nyx altar up, and that felt *really* good.

Stress? Yeah, drowning in it. But I have my focus, and that makes a big difference.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thoth Devotional


There's a text from the Ptolemaic era that I have always enjoyed. It's an account of the Wandering Goddess, Tefnut, the Eye of Re. (The same story is told in other sources of Sekhmet-Hethert, with slight modification.) Tefnut is raging in the south as a ferocious lion who is devastating the land. Thoth is sent out to calm her and bring this powerful goddess back to Egypt, since the kingdom is defenseless without her. In this particular version he soothes the goddess' wrath by telling her a series of amusing and educational stories, mostly animal fables like those of Aesop. 

So, what I'd like to do is bring out a modern reimagining of this myth. It would be a collection of short fiction dealing with Greek and Egyptian themes, ideally in a modern setting. The collection would begin with a narrative setting the stage, describing Thoth's search for the Wandering goddess and his attempt to placate her. It would end with another vignette showing her pacified by his stories and returning as the jubilant goddess to Egypt. But instead of animal fables, the stories told would be the stories of our community, contributed by an assortment of people. It would honor the powerful, transformative qualities of story-telling and Thoth as the master story-teller himself. Each author, by telling their own story, by using the power of words to create worlds, to share the beauty and power of the gods, by affirming that we who hold to the old gods are still here and those gods still matter in our world today - would be acting in the role of Thoth, magician, scribe, and healer. 

These stories can be about anything, in any style: serious, playful, historical, modern, or whatever. The only requirement is that they somehow be about the gods or Greek, Egyptian, or Roman religion. The deadline for this anthology will be Novemeber 30, 2008

Send submissions to submissions@neosalexandria.org

* All submissions must be the original work of the author – plagiarism is strongly frowned upon!
* Multiple submissions by the same author are fine – and encouraged!
* Material that has been published in other places will still be considered, provided the author retains their copyright to the work.
* The author retains all rights to their work after publication.
* Contact the editors for information on format, length, and other requirements if you have any questions.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sharing the joy of the wild.

Yesterday, I bit the bullet and decided to take our children and go for a walk in our woods. Now, that might not seem like a big deal, but considering our woods are on a mountain I have not been certain they (or I!) could make it. However, it seemed like the right day for it.

And it WAS! We started out with lots of warm coats, because it has been quite chilly (with rumours of snow) here in NH. We didn't really need it, though. Instead, it was almost balmy, though definitely jacket and boot weather. It was crisp and bright, too, and absolutely gorgeous. The sun shone down, the leaves crackled at our feet, and a light breeze made the treetops talk to us. We took two boxes of raisins with us, an offering from the twins to the nymphs of our stream, and I had a bowl with a lid to gather some water for my house blessing on Sunday.

The walk was long, but not arduous. We all enjoyed it. The twins were marvelous, behaving well and enjoying the scenery. Boytwin decided that the finest thing in the world was to pick up every stick on the trail and drag it behind him, making loud crunch noises in the leaves. Girltwin was excited, because I'd promised her that when we reached the stream, she would hear the nymphs playing if she was quiet.

I didn't lie, either. You could hear them... not just the babble of the brook, but an Other sound, too. My girltwin was just lit up like a lightbulb to hear them, and she offered up some of her raisins very solemnly, and told the nymphs thank you for the water we were taking. Boytwin had to be convinced, because he didn't really want to give up HIS raisins, but he did grudgingly leave some, then smiled like a ray of sunshine as a particularly loud burble went downstream just as he did it. They sat peaceably by the stream, eating the rest of their "feast" and listening to the birdsong, the nymphae, the wind in the trees.

We looked at different leaves and moss, and watched birds and squirrels scurrying around, getting ready for winter. They tossed the crinkly leaves around, sang songs of praise to the woodlands and the Gods, and just generally behaved beautifully. During our walk, we found a towering wall of rock that went up as far as we could see, a feature of our new property that none of us had been aware of. I would guess it's granite, as this IS the "Granite State". Large chunks had fallen down over the years, and a trail wound up one side of it (but we didn't explore... toddlers on mountainsides make me nervous LOL). Beautiful stuff.

We came home and had grilled open faced cheese sandwiches on yummy onion buns, with a side of hot chocolate and extra marshmallows. I had two exhausted and happy children and I was pretty darn happy myself. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 08

Today is Blog Action Day. From their website:

On October 15th bloggers everywhere will publish posts that discuss poverty in some way. By all posting on the same day we aim to change the conversation that day, to raise awareness, start a global discussion and add momentum to an important cause.

Well, as of today, my family is living in poverty. We closed on our house and land, and are how "house poor" as it is sometimes called. All our available cash went into this purchase, and there is nothing left. In fact, there's less than nothing left - our bank account went into the red over this.

But... how poor can we be with family around us?

There is so much talk right now, about how poverty is on the rise. We mention the cost of gas, the cost of oil, the cost of electricity, and we mourn the rise in the prices for even staples such as milk and bread. I hear people complain about it every day.

Yet, who is working on the solutions? Politicians talk of injecting the economy with money, but I fail to see how that does more than put a bandaid onto a severed artery. We can't count on the government to rescue us. Not only are they simply not going to do so, it's morally wrong.

That's right - it's morally wrong! When a child in our care misspends her allowance, we don't hand the child another $20 and go about our day. We lecture the child, or somehow sit down to teach her that the lack of money is the result of her poor spending habits. We teach her better ways to save and spend. If it's a repeat problem, we may even go so far as to take away the child's allowance altogether. We certainly don't aid and abet the child in spending beyond her means, though. Why should we expect the government to do so with us?

There are very few people in our country that are incapable of having at least a small garden, even if it's in containers. There are very few people in our country who can't work at SOME job in order to pay the rent. There are very few people in our country who are capable of living without credit cards.

These few facts are depressing. There are people starving, and there is land to plant food in... and people are left to starve. Those selfsame people often don't bother learning to feed themselves; instead they expect Big Brother to fix it, and either spoon feed them a job, or better yet, give them money for not working.

Poverty is a scary thing. I've been a single mom unable to work because welfare paid me more than working and paying the daycare I'd need in order to work. I hated being on welfare. Perhaps if welfare didn't exist, we could spend that money for subsidized or free daycare at work places, thereby freeing up thousands upon thousands of women who would otherwise be working and earning a fair wage.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Horrorscopes

There's something to be said for horoscopes. I read mine every day, though I don't stress over it. I'm always surprised at how accurate it usually is, consdiering it applies to some hundreds, maybe thousands of people born at about the same time as me. Today's was one of those uncannily accurate ones:

You have begun to make the changes you once dreamed about, but you may have serious doubts now that you are actually moving toward them. This uncertainty is natural and will settle down over the days ahead. In the meantime, think about what you want instead of focusing on what you don't want. The power of positive thinking is surely stronger than just saying no.

Geez louise that one just hit me smack between the eyes. LOL...

So here I am, in the midst of simplifying my life, moving to the country from the suburbs, learning to cook on a woodstove, learning to heat a house with a woodstove (!), and beginning to plan what will happen with the 15 cleared acres we have... I've been plagued with doubts about myself, and about our ability as a group to do this. Of course, those fears are empty - we ARE doing it, and frankly, we're doing it so well that we've had only a couple of minor emotional spats in the past six months of extreme stress. I still worry, though.

I need to keep my focus on the fact that, in one week and 2 days, I will be moving into our new home. Not a house... that's just a building. A home is where your heart is, and where Hestia is present in the hearth. One of the great things for me is the fact that we have both a gas stove and a wood stove in the kitchen. This means we have a never-ending flame in our home at all times, such a wonderful thing to remind me of Hestia. I hope to put a tiny altar to her, somewhere near the wood stove.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ah... The joys of National Debt!

Maxing Out the National Debt Clock


October 09, 2008 10:14 AM ET

Are you surprised? Times Square's National Debt Clock, which has been tallying up money owed by the U.S. government since 1989, is running out of spaces.

In September 2008, the digital dollar sign was eliminated to make way for an extra digit—the "1" in $10 trillion (the national debt is currently $10.2 trillion). Now, a new clock is in the works that will make room for a quadrillion dollars of debt, according to the Associated Press. Anticipated completion is early 2009.

A little history on the clock: It was created in 1989 by Manhattan real estate developer Seymour Durst to inform the public about the nation's snowballing national debt (back then, it was $2.7 trillion). Seymour died in 1995, and the clock is now owned by his son, Douglas Durst.

According to the Treasury, the national debt has grown more than $500 billion each year since fiscal year 2003. The $700 billion government bailout could send the national debt to more than $11 trillion, says the AP.

From: http://www.usnews.com/blogs/new-money/2008/10/9/maxing-out-the-national-debt-clock.html

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

He Epistole - Request for Articles

We're assembling articles and information for the winter issue of He Epistole, and we'd love to have your input!

Laura still needs plenty of articles and writing for He Epistole. This is an easy way to provide something to Neokoroi and to the public (if you care to see it that way) at large. :) I know that I felt a bit of concern about submitting things to He Epistole when I first came to Neokoroi, but I really needn't have worried. There are lots of people around here to help with editing, if you need it!

Here are some suggestions for things that could go into the upcoming (Winter) issue of He Epistole!

* local news or global news reported in your own words
* rituals for autumn or winter
* daily devotions
* poetry
* short stories
* re-telling of myths, especially winter ones
* reviews of books of interest to the Hellenic community
* recipes, **especially* if they include information about why they're important to Hellenes!
* gift ideas for the Hellenic Polytheist that has everything

I'm sure you can all come up with a dozen more ideas that are even better! If anyone needs editing help, please don't hesitate to email me. I'd be glad to help out in any way!

Oh, and artwork is welcome, too!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October Goodness

It's October, and Halloween is on the way. We'll be moving into our new home soon, and one of the first things I want to do is decorate it for the season. We have skeletons for the windows, and flashy lights for the front porch, creepy crawlies for the back porch, and cob webs and such for all over (though I admit, I'm cleaning the real ones away as soon as I can).  

One of the things I found out recently was that our property hosts a small graveyard. I'm very excited about it. I made a vow to Hecate that once we were settled in a new home, I would find a local graveyard to tend, and here she's provided me with my very own graveyard to care for! I have to learn more about it, but apparently an older couple are buried there, and perhaps others. I intend to do some research on the names, once I find them. I know the general location, but need to find the actual spot. At least I n0w know where my altar and shrine to Hecate will go!

This fall, after the corn is out of our new fields, we'll be discussing where to put our orchard. It looks as if it will go in fairly near the graveyard, which actually feels rather nice. I suspect I'll be putting a small shrine to Persephone and Hades there, as I've always felt their shrines should be near fruit trees. I'm not sure why, but it's always just felt right, and being near the graveyard adds to the Underworld aspect as well. 

All we have to do is get the loan from the bank, and we'll be done. By Monday, we expect to be able to move into our home. Keep us in your prayers!