Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Magdalen Community is a connective community seeking conversation and dialogue
with other spiritualities and religious traditions. This Community takes
its inspiration from The Gospel of Mary, where Jesus encourages
the assembled community to find the divine nature within.

Call to Silence and Opening Meditation

What is Halloween?
What does it mean?
Beware gentle readers.
Things are not what they seem.

There was a time
There was no Halloween
There wasn’t a ghost
Or a ghoul to be seen
There wasn’t a howl
Or the hiss of black cats
There wasn’t a pumpkin
A witch or a bat

Not a creak of a door
Not a bump in the night
Not a scream
Not a scare
Not a freak
Not a fright

Then the ghosts and the goblins
Sat up and said “hey”
It’s not fair that the living
have all the holidays
They have Christmas
And Easter
And Thanksgiving too.
Yet we’ve no reason to scare
Nor cause to say “boo”.

And on that fateful day
On the last of October
They vowed that the living
Would wish this day OVER.

So stick around with us
And you’ll get to scream
During this Halloween’s
Spooky spooky dream.


Celebrating Halloween Around the World

The modern holiday of Halloween has it’s origins as The Festival of Samhain, a celebration of the end of the harvest season, and is regarded as ‘The Celtic New Year’. Traditionally, the festival was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. The Ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops. The festivals would frequently involve bonfires, where the bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or placate them.

In Western Christianity, All Souls' Day commemorates the faithful departed. This day is observed especially in the Roman Catholic Church but also in Anglicanism and to some extent also among Protestants. The Western celebration of the feast falls on November 2 and follows All Saints Day, which commemorates the departed who have attained the beatific vision. the souls of the faithful which at death have not been cleansed from venial sin, or have not fully atoned for mortal sins, cannot attain the beatific vision (God) yet, and that they may be helped to do so by prayer and by the sacrifice of the Mass.

In many countries, during these holidays, people take the day off work, go to cemeteries with candles and flowers, and give presents to children, usually sweets and toys.


On Halloween night in present-day Ireland, adults and children dress up as creatures from the underworld (e.g., ghosts, ghouls, zombies, witches and goblins), light bonfires, and enjoy spectacular fireworks displays (despite the fact that such displays are usually illegal). Halloween was perceived as the night during which the division between the world of the living and the otherworld was blurred so spirits of the dead and inhabitants from the underworld were able to walk free on the earth. It was necessary to dress as a spirit or otherworldly creature when venturing outdoors to blend in. The children knock on the neighbors’ doors in order to gather fruit, nuts, and sweets for the Halloween festival. Salt was once sprinkled in the hair of the children to protect against evil spirits.

England and Wales

All Saints Day (All Hallows Day) became fixed in 835, and All Souls Day in 998. On All Souls Eve, families stayed up late, and little “soul cakes” were eaten by everyone. At the stroke of midnight, there was solemn silence among households, which had candles burning in every room to guide the souls back to visit their earthly homes, and a glass of wine on the table to refresh them. The tradition continued in areas of northern England as late as the 1930s, with children going from door-to-door “souling” (i.e., singing songs) for cakes or money.


Scotland, having a shared Gaelic culture and language with Ireland, has celebrated the festival of Samhain robustly for centuries. Robert Burns portrayed the varied customs in his poem “Hallowe’en” (1785).
In Scotland, a lot of folklore, including that of Halloween, revolves around the belief in fairies. Children dress up in costumes and carry around a “Neepy Candle” a devil face carved into a hollowed out neep (Rutabaga), lit from inside, to frighten away the evil faeries.

United States

Halloween did not become a holiday in the United States until the 19th century, where lingering Puritan tradition restricted even the observance of Christmas prior to the 1800s. Mass-produced Halloween costumes did not appear in stores until the 1930s, and trick-or-treating did not become a fixture of the holiday until the 1950s. In the United States, Halloween has become the sixth most profitable holiday. Halloween is now the United States’ second most popular holiday (after Christmas) for decorating and the sale of candy


During the last 40 years, Halloween celebrations have been influenced by American traditions. Halloween in Mexico begins three days of consecutive holidays; it is followed by All Saints’ Day, which also marks the beginning of the two day celebration of the Day of the Dead or the Día de los Muertos.

A Reading from The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (Leloup translation)

“And Craving said: ‘I did not see you descend, but now I see you rising. Why do you lie,
since you belong to me?’ The soul answered: ‘I saw you, though you did not see me, nor recognize me, I was with you as with a garment, and you never felt me.’ Having said this, the soul left, rejoicing greatly. Then it entered into the third climate, known as Ignorance. Ignorance inquired of the soul: ‘Where are you going? You are dominated by wicked inclinations. Indeed, you lack discrimination, and you are enslaved.’ The soul answered: ‘Why do you judge me, since I have made no judgment? I have been dominated, but I myself have not dominated. I have not been recognized, but I myself have recognized that all things which are composed shall be decomposed, on earth and in heaven.’ Freed from this third climate, the soul continued its ascent, and found itself in the fourth climate. This has seven manifestations: the first manifestation is Darkness; the second, Craving; the third, Ignorance; the fourth, Lethal Jealousy; the fifth, Enslavement to the Body; the sixth, Intoxicated Wisdom; the seventh, Guileful Wisdom. These are the seven manifestations of Wrath and they oppressed the soul with questions: ‘Where do you come from, murderer?’ and ‘Where are you going, vagabond?’ The soul answered: ‘That which has oppressed me has been slain; that which encircled me has vanished; my craving has faded, and I am freed from my ignorance. I left the world with the aid of another world; a design was erased, by virtue of a higher design. Henceforth I travel toward Repose, where time rests in the Eternity of Time; I go now into Silence.’”

I get to Soul Walk!

Call to Conversation

Closing Meditation

As an expression of appreciation to The Rothko Chapel for use of this sacred space,your love offering in the box marked “Magdalen Community” will be
gratefully received. Checks may be written to “Brigid’s Place”
with ‘Magdalene Community’ in the memo line.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Today we offer the community music and meditation. The chants will be led by Linda Larkin and the meditative thoughts are drawn from various religious traditions.

Meditation Thoughts

From Rumi, Hidden Music, translated by Azima Melita Kolin & Maryam Mafi, 59

With love you cannot bargain
There, the choice is not yours.
Love is a mirror, it reflects
only your essence,
if you have the courage
to look in its face.

Revelations from the Blessed One from The Gospel of Mary:
(read together)
"Peace be with you!
Acquire my peace within yourselves!

Be on your guard so that no one deceives you by saying,
'Look over here!' or 'Look over there!' For the child of
true humanity exists within you.

Follow it! Those who search for it will find it."

(translation by Karen King, in The Gospel of Mary of Magdala and cited in The Magdalene Mystique, 138)

From Being Still: Reflections on an Ancient Mystical Tradition, by Jean-Yves LeLoup, translated by M.S. Laird, O.S.A.

When Mr. X, a young French philosopher, arrived on Mount Athos he had already read a number of books on Orthodox spirituality, including Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart and The Way of a Pilgrim. He had been seduced without really being convinced. A single liturgy at rue Daru in Paris had inspired him to spend a few days on Mount Athos when he was on holiday in Greece. He hoped to learn a bit more about prayer and, in particular, the method of prayer practiced by those silent men in search of hesychasm, or interior peace.

This young man had read many books on meditation and prayer, but he had never really prayed or meditated before. He was looking for not only m ore lecture on prayer or meditation, but an initiation which would allow him to live prayer and to know it from within, by experience and not just be hearsay.

It would take too long to tell how h e came to meet Fr. Seraphim, a monk who lived in a hermitage near Saint Panteleimon (which the Greeks call the Roussikon). Suffice it to say that on Mount Athos the young philosopher was a little wary. He did not find the monks up to the level of his books.

Fr. Seraphim had an ambiguous reputation among his circle of monks. Some accused him of levitating, others of barking. Some considered him an ignorant peasant, others a true startez, inspired by the Holy Spirit and capable of giving profound advice and reading the secrets of the heart.

When anyone arrived at the door of his hermitage, Fr. Seraphim had the custom of observing the visitor in a most insolent way from head to foot, for five long minutes, without saying a word. Those who were not put off by this sort of examination would then undergo the monk's biting evaluation. 'You! She/He hasn't descended beneath your chin.' 'You! Let's not talk about it, She/He hasn't even come into you.' 'You! How marvelous! She/He's got right down to your knees!'

Of course he was speaking of the Holy Spirit's descent. In this way, he assessed the holiness of a visitor according to the degree of incarnation of the Spirit. The perfect person, the transfigured person, was inhabited by the Holy Spirit from head to toe. "I've only seen that once. That was staretz Silouan. He was truly a man [human] of God, full of humility and majesty."

The young philosopher was not quite there yet. The Holy Spirit had stopped at his chin. When he asked Fr. Seraphim to tell him something about prayer of the heart and about pure prayer according to Evagrius Ponticus, the old monk began to shout. This did not discourage the young man. He insisted. So Fr. Seraphim said, "Before I talk about prayer of the heart, first learn how to meditate like a mountain." And he showed him an enormous rock. "Ask it how it goes about prayer, then come back to me."

We ask for your comments/thoughts to continue our Sunday conversation. Thank you.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Call to Silence & Opening Meditation

Reflection on what brings you joy.

Music: "Be Present" Anita Kruse

Be present
Act as the living presence dwells in you.

"You Are Love" @2005 Ann Bugh (Ann, Anita, All)

You are Love...Under some darkness, Nothing but brightness.
You Are Love...And...You are Loved.


Excerpted from As Above, So Below (Paths to Spiritual Renewal in Daily Life) by Ronald S. Miller and the editors of New Age Journal, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, and The Well of Creativity, A book of interviews with Michael Toms.

Great artists, in their passionate and single minded devotion to their disciplines, are similar to practicing mystics. Their works bring us into direct touch with truths at the very structure of life. Their art drives them to explore their inner worlds more deeply, while at the same time forcing them to connect and expand in ways that express shared meaning.

"True art is not an indulgence of the little self, but a manifestation of the Self." - Frederick Franck, painter

Artists have more than a special way of "seeing"; it is a way of "being". Artists must practice being open, trusting, present, attuned. Their world is a flow of images, intuitions and connections. They continually practice abandoning expectations, while surrendering to the unknown with gratitude and wonder.

"I sometimes...become conscious, realize I am surrounded by people and things,...and have the impression that I'm seeing it all for the first time." Eugene Ionesco, Dramatist

"We disappear and become a carrier wave, a vehicle for the music that plays us...and our music becomes a message about bit Self." Stephen Nachmanovitch, Musician

"Straightway the ideas flow in upon me, directly from God, and not only do I see distinct themes.. but they are clothed in the right forms, harmonies, and orchestration. Measure by measure the finished product is revealed to me when I am in those rare, inspired moods." Johannes Brahms, Composer

The notion that creativity is only for artists, however, is just that--a false notion. The creative process is the process of life--asking, surrendering, receiving. The British author Graham Wallas, in his book The Art of Thought, discerned four phases to the creative process that are similar to mystic experiences on the way to enlightenment: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification.

- In the preparation phase we ask a question or seek an answer, directing it to our unconscious.
- During incubation phase, we let it go, sleep on it, surrender it. We trust it to percolate down
into the intuitive depths, knowing what we need will come to us at the right time.
- In the illuminated stage, an answer appears like a miracle, a synchronicity, a flash of insight or
the subtlest of hints. While we recognize its significance, it may or may not look like what we
- In the final stage, verification, we have the courage to act on what we've been given.
Typically--looking back--we recognize its perfection. It was exactly what we needed.

"There's something about creativity that every human being gets an equal share." Ornette Coleman

"The news from the deeps is very good. It suggests that creative and expression are the natural activities of the human being who is able to release, at least temporarily, the inhibitions of habituation." Jean Houston, Author

"Creativity is a spiritual practice. It is not something that can be "finished'. Just when we "get there' there disappears. This unfinished quality is a requirement of a sustained creative life. It's open ended and ongoing. It asks us to constantly be willing to have the humility to begin again. It asks us to keep opening our heart to, and meeting the inner demands of our own growth. We are not dependent on any external knowledge to be 'creative'. Rather, it is our natural birthright. We are the only ones who can release it or hold it back. No matter what your age or life path, it is never too late to work on your 'creativity'". (Paraphrased from The Artist's Way - by Julia Cameron)

Our usual way to acquire knowledge is to separate ourselves from objects, observe, and analyze them. This is a dualistic process of knowing that yields knowledge "about" things we are studying. By contrast, philosophers and mystics use intuition as a way of knowing. Intuition involves a fusion of the observer and the observed that transcends separation. In becoming what we would know, we understand it in ways impossible from the dualistic perspective. Western culture tends to discredit the use of intuition over sensory-based experience. Yet, even great pioneers of science (Newton, Einstein) trusted their intuition-often following intuitive leaps with scientific observation and verification.

To make intuitive knowing central to our lives typically requires 3 practices: stilling the mind long enough to cut through to awareness; concentration on the ideal or problem we want understanding about; and finally, cultivation a receptive, non-judgmental attitude that welcomes intuition to the surface. Intuition, when cultivated like any other practice in our lives, can elevate the quality of all our experiences. Most people adopt a belief early on in their lives that "only some people are creative", yet it's that belief that keeps us from nurturing our individual creativity and embracing its daily practice as essential to a balanced life.

So take time to play, to listen within, and to be inspired. This time is as essential as taking time to eat, sleep and work. Creativity is a powerful tool of personal and communal transformation. It feeds our souls and enhances our feeling of connection. And endorphin-induced natural high is one of the by-products of daily creative exercise. Whether we consciously own it or not, we are the creators of our experience. When we create consciously in the direction of joy...

"I think of the word 'inspiration'. It comes from the word 'inspirare' in Latin (to breathe) and 'spiritus' or spirit--so we are breathing forth, bringing forth spirit. We are honoring our deepest selves. That's a beautiful way to look at it." - (Paraphrased from The Well of Creativity, Creativity as a Spiritual Practice by Michael Toms)

Call to Conversation

Music - "We all Come to the Well to be Filled" @2007 Ann Bugh (Ann, Anita, All)

We all come to the well to be filled.
Praise for the water that flows from the sea, to the river, the well, to you and me.

Closing Meditation & Music: "Simple Song" @2005 Ann Bugh (Ann, Anita, All)

Though your song be simple, let it play.
Though your song be simple, let it play.
Though your song be simple, so simple-though it be simple, let it play.

Leave your heart wide open, it will sing.
Leave your heart wide open, it will sing.
A song so simple and so open, other hearts will open up and sing.

Let the past rest easy on your mind.
Leave the future for another time.
With an open heart, and a simple song,
Fear-like yesterday-will gently face away..Leaving only love behind.

Though your song be simple, let it play.
Nothings quite so simple as they say.
With your heart wide open, and your song so simple
-soft and simple-let it play.
Though your song be simple, let it play.
Though your song be simple, let it play.
Though your song be simple, so simple--though it be simple, let it play.

We ask for your thoughts/comments to continue our Sunday conversation.
Thank you.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Call to Silence and Opening Meditation

Hiney Mah Tov U-Mah Na-Im Shevet Achim Gam Yachad
(How good and pleasant it is for everyone to live together as one)

What is Torah? The Torah is the most important document in Judaism, revered as the inspired word of God, traditionally said to have been revealed to Moses. The word Torah means "teaching", "instruction", "scribe", or "law" in Hebrew. It is also known as the Five Books of Moses, the Law of Moses, or Sefer Torah, which refers to the scroll cases in which the books are kept.

A Sefer Torah is a formal written scroll of the five books, hand-written on parchment by a trained Torah scribe under exceptionally strict requirements. The term is sometimes also used in the general sense encompassing the entire spectrum of authoritative Jewish religious teachings throughout history, including the Mishnah, the Talmud, the Midrash, and more.

The Torah comprises the first five books of the Tanakh, or Hebrew Bible, known as the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. To Jews, there is no "Old Testament", as the books that Christians call the New Testament are not part of Jewish scripture. The five books, and their names in Hebrew (the Hebrew names are taken from the initial words within the first verse of each book), with translations, are:

* GENESIS: B'reshit ("In the beginning...")
* EXODUS: Shemot ("Names")
* LEVITICUS: V'ayikra ("And he called...")
* NUMBERS: Bamidbar ("In the desert...")
* DEUTERONOMY: D'varim ("The words" or "The discourses")


Why are the words of Torah like fire?
As fire from a single flame kindles many flames, so each word of
Torah kindles many minds, illumines many hearts. The Torah gives
light to all who make use of its bright and shining flame.

The Torah is God's great gift to the House of Israel.
The People of Israel without Torah is like a body without a soul.
Like water, it cleanses and is refreshing.
Like wine, it gladdens the heart.
Like a crown, it raises us high-
Higher than the throne of kings and queens.
When Torah entered the world, freedom entered it.
The whole Torah exists only to establish peace.
Its highest teaching is love and kindness.
What is hateful to you, do not do to another person.
That is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary; go and learn it.
Those who study Torah sustain the world.
Honoring one another, doing acts of kindness, and making peace; these
are our highest duties.
And the study of Torah leads to them all.
We rejoice in Torah: it is our life, the length of our days. Praised
be the God who teaches Torah to our people Israel.


Torat Emet Natan L'amo Eyl. Al Yad N'vi-O Ne-E-Man Beyto.
Lo Yachalif Ha-Eyl, V'lo Yamir Dat.
L'olamim, L'olamim, L'zulato.
(Through the hands of Moses, God's faithful prophet, we received the Torah of truth.)


"Meditation Before Reading Torah" (a poem by Marge Piercy)

We are the people of the word
and the breath of the word fills our minds with light.
We are the people of the word
and the breath of life sings through us
playing on the pipes of our bones
and the strings of our sinews
an ancient song carved in the Laurentian granite
and new as a spring azure butterfly just drying her wings
in a moment's splash of sun.
We must life the word and make it real.

We are the people of the book
and the letters march busy as ants
carrying the work of the ages through our minds.

We are the people of the book.
through fire and mud and dust we have borne
our scrolls tenderly as a baby swaddled in a blanket,
traveling with our words sewn in our clothes
and carried on our backs.

Let us take up the scroll of Torah
and dance with it and touch it
and read it out, for the mind
touches the word and makes it light.
So does light enter us, and we shine.

Keep your father's wisdom; do not forget your mother's teachings.
Bind them always to your heart, seal them into your mind.
When you walk, they shall lead you; when you lie down, they shall keep you safe. The shall be with you when you wake up.
For the commandment is a lamp and the Torah is light.
Torah is light. In the House of Bondage it gave us hope, and showed us the way to freedom.
Torah is light; the light of our prophets, the light of our teachers.e
Torah is light. It showed us our way in the wilderness, and led us to the Land of Promise.
Torah is light: the light of our poets, the wisdom of our people. We inscribe its words on parchment, for all the people to learn.
We take it into our hearts, to do as we have learned!


Al Sh'losha D'varim, Al Sh'losha D'varim,
Al Sh'losha, Sh'losha D'varim Ha-Olam Ha-Olam Omed (2x)
Al A Torah, V'al Ha-Avodah, V'al G'milut Chasadim (2x)
(The world depends on three things: on TOrah, on worship and on acts of loving kindness.)


As You taught Torah to those whose names I bear, teach me TOrah, too.
Its mystery beckons, yet I struggle with its truth.
You meant Torah for me: did You mean the struggle for me, too?
Don't let me struggle alone; help me to understand, to be wise, to
listen, to know...
Lead me into the mystery.

From "Bringing Heaven Down to Earth" by Tzvi Freeman:

Before the experience at Mount Sinai, there was earth and there was heaven. If you wanted one, you were obliged to abandon the other.

At Mount Sinai, the boundaries of heaven and earth were broken and humankind was empowered to fuse the two: To raise the earthly into the realm of the spirit, and to bring heaven down to earth.

Before the experience of Mount Sinai, the coarse material of which the world is made could not be elevated. It could be used as a medium, an aid in achieving enlightenment, but itself could not be enlightened.

Jacob used sticks for meditation, Isaac dug wells. But neither the sticks nor the wells became imbued with Godliness.

All that changed at Mount Sinai. When you take a piece of leather and write upon a Torah scroll, you have transformed the material into spiritual. And the same with flour used for matzah for Passover night, and branches used to cover a succah, and even the earnings which you tithe for good causes. And so you may do in every aspect of your life.

Our ancestors' task was to enlighten the souls of men and women.
Ours is to transform the material darkness into light.
What is Torah?
Love your neighbor as yourself.
What is mitzvah?
Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.
What is Torah?
Depart from evil and do good; be just and do what is right; do not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling-block before the blind. The world is sustained by three things: the truth, by justice, and be peace.
The world depends on three things: on Torah, on service, and on loving deeds.
What is Torah?
The Torah is a tree of life to those who hold it fast, and all who cling to it find happiness.

What is the way of Torah?
Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace.


Eytz Chayim Hi, Lamachazikim Bah V'to-M' cheha, M'u-Shar.
D'ra-Cheha, Darchey No-=Am, V'kol N'tivotecha Shalom.
Hashiveynu Adonai Eylecha V 'nashuvah.
Chadeysh, Chadeysh Yameynu,
Chadeysh Yameynu K'kedem.
( It is a tree of life to those who hold it fast. Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace. Help us to return to You, O God, then truly shall we return. Renew our days as in the past.)

Call to Conversation

"The Silent Sound of Alef" (a story about the giving of the Ten Commandments)

No one really knows for sure what happened on Mount Sinai. Some people imagine that God dictated the whole Torah, word by word. Others believe that the Ten Commandments were carved in stone with the finger of God. The Torah itself tells different stories. Some think that, in addition to the Torah, God also whispered the Talmud (additional ancient writings) to Moses. Some believe that God did not speak or write; rather, God inspired Moses. And there are even those who think that Moses imaged the whole thing.

At different times, different people may have believed one or another explanation. That is the Jewish way. Something as important as how God talks to people and what God says has been a constant source of Jewish debate. All agree, however, that what happened on Mount Sinai was a turning point in Jewish history.

Once, several people were having just such as argument. The first one claimed that God gave the whole Torah, word by word. A second one said that God gave only the ten sayings, commonly called the Ten Commandments. A third person remembered the old legend that tells that God didn't give ten, but only the first two Commandments, ("I am the Lord your God..." and "You shall not have any other gods beside Me..."). "After tall," that person suggested," the first two sayings are the basis for all of Judaism. One who remembers that there is a God who frees people and that there are no other gods will probably be pious." A fourth person said that God uttered only the first saying, "I am the Lord our God". The four agreed that, if God had given only one saying, it would have been the most important one-that there is a God.

"No, God didn't even say that much!", insisted a fifth person. "All God said was the first word of the first saying, "I" (in Hebrew, Anochi)." All five then agreed that, if God had said only one word, it would have been Anochi, because it affirms the importance of the self.

Then Rabbi Mendl Torum ofRymanov, who had been listening to all of this, came forward and said, "Not even the first word., All God said was the first letter of the first word of the saying-which, in Hebrew, is also the first letter of the alphabet, Alef." "But we thought that the Alef was a silent letter" replied the others. "Almost, but not perfectly silent," answerd Rabbi Mendl. "You see, Alef makes a tiny, little sound that is the beginning of every sound. Open your mouth and begin to make a sound. Stop! That is Alef. God made the voice of Alef so quiet that, if you made any other noise, you wouldn't be able to hear it. At Sinai, all the people of Israel needed to hear was the sound of Alef. It meant that God and the Jewish people could have a conversation."

The Jewish mystical books teach that Alef-the "almost" sound of the first letter of the first word of the first Commandment-contains the entire Torah. But not everyone hears the gentle sound of Alef. People are able to hear only what they are aready to hear. God speaks to each of us in a personal way, taking into consideration our strength, wisdom, and preparation.

Closing Song

V'ha-Eyr Eyneynu, B'torateacha V'da-Beyk Libeynu, B'mitzvotecha.
V'yacheyd, L'vaveynu, L'ahava, U'L-Yira Et Sh'mecha.
V'lo Neivosh, V'lo Nikalem, V'lo Nikashel, L'olam Va-Ed (2x)
(Open our eyes with your Torah, consecrate our hearts to Your mitzvoth (Commandments); and let the love and awe of Your name make us whole. Then we shall never be shamed; then we shall not ever stumble)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Opening Music - Autumn Leaves

Call to Silence and Opening Meditation

"To Autumn" William Blake

O Autumn. Laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof, there thou may'st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe;
And all the daughters of the year shall dance,
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.


The Feast of the August Moon, Fall Equinox, Second Harvest Festival, Chusok or 'Moon Festival', Festival of Dionysus, Wine Harvest, Cornucopia, Feast of Avalon, Harvest Home, Festival of Greenery - Every agrarian culture I've read about, past or present, has a way of celebrating the year's harvest. Today's celebrations are the descendants of ancient ones. They mostly happen between Autumn Equinox (Sept. 23 this year) and Halloween or Samhain (pronounced sow-wen), October 31; some a bit earlier. They often link the cycles of death and life, honouring the dead as well as the harvest. In many cultures, these things are intertwined. Harvest is over, winter is coming, and people have both the time and the reason to celebrate and relax. It's a time to enjoy plentiful food while it lasts: winter can be a time of scarcity or at least monotony when it comes to food. First Nations peoples have held harvest festivals in North America for thousands of years. In the United States and Canada, holidays like Thanksgiving came to the New World along with the first Europeans. European harvest festivals originated from pagan celebrations like Mabon, the pagan Celtic festival held on the Equinox.

Fall fairs, another tradition in North America, began in Europe as trading meets held in the days after the harvest. Today's' celebrations find a place for many cops that are historical symbols of autumn: sheaves of corn and wheat, grapes and wine, gourds, dried leaves, rattles, horns of plenty, seeds and nuts, apple cider, squash, and pumpkins.

In Japan, Autumn Equinox Day is a national holiday marking the change of seasons and paying respects to the dead. German peasants at one time broke the first straws of hay harvested and said, "This is food for the dead." Buddhists celebrate equality on the equinox, the time of the year when day and night are of equal length. Moon cakes are the traditional food of harvest, and thanksgiving festivals are held in Korean. The Roman celebration was dedicated to Pomona, goddess of fruits and growing things. In England, the last sheaf of corn harvested represented the 'spirit of the field'. It was made into a doll. Corn dolls were drenched with water representing rain or burned to represent the death of the grain spirit. At other times they were kept until the following spring. The Polish Feast of Greenery involves bringing bouquets and foods for blessing by a priest, then using them for medicine or keeping them until the following years harvest.

A Reading fromThe Gospel of Mary Magdalene (Leloup translation)

'Be in harmony...' If you are out of balance, take inspiration from manifestations of your true nature. Those who have ears, let them hear.

Call to learning - Autumn Quix

Call to Conversation

Closing Meditation

"Autumn Day" by Rainer Maria Rilke

The leaves are falling, falling as from far
Withering gardens in the distant heavens;
They are falling with a gesture of nay-saying.

And in the nights the heavy earth is swaying
To loneliness from serried star on star.

We are all falling. This hand falls no less.
Nor yet this other. Falling all enfoldeath.

Yet is there One who all this falling holdeth
In His strong hands' unending gentleness.