Contemplating a Red Moon

Last night, 2019’s only lunar eclipse took place: a spectacular “supermoon” eclipse. We watched it from our back yard, watching the Moon slowly darken into a ruddy ball, and then, dramatically, the bright edge of ordinary Sun-lit surface burst into being and steadily reclaim it.

Lunar eclipses are really cool. Astronomical events as a whole are really cool: meteor showers, eclipses, transits, and particularly that extraordinary rarity, a prominent comet visible to the naked eye. Whenever possible, I take the opportunity to experience these phenomena, as they bring home in a visceral way that we are on a planet, in space, and there’s a lot of other stuff going on out there.

Until three years ago, when I was forced to move, I lived in a rural setting. I knew the passage of the year by the changes in the trees, the choruses of frogs and crickets and coyotes and turkeys, the ripening of the crops. Now we are in a suburban neighborhood and, though it’s pretty good in terms of light pollution and silence, it’s harder to keep hold of that knowledge that all the time, things are happening. 

That mountain may look as it did yesterday from a distance, but it isn’t. Countless changes have been made, as Life does its thing and all the individual creatures go about their tasks.

As a Pagan, I do my best to keep this in mind: Nature is hard at work here, every day. The great beauty of an eclipse, a sunset, the breathtaking flash of a heron overhead, the rainbow, the lightning strike: these are the “postcard moments” in a panoply of activity that carries on unseen and incessant. Nature casts weather across the land and sea, stirs dust and seeds and migrating spiders high into the air and over distances. Animals eat and mate and complete their cycles; trees and plants turn their solar collectors to the life-giving Sun, powering the whole enterprise.

It’s magnificent and ordinary. It’s Sacred.

Having a Pagan practice helps me to remember this. My daily observances at my Focus bring me into recognition of the wonders of this world, this life. I hope, as I age, that I will never forget how miraculous it is to be here, to be a part of all this.

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Closing the Door with Gratitude

2018 was rough for me.

I was unemployed the whole time, begging and borrowing to stay under a roof. It was necessary, but it filled me with shame and embarrassment.

I had a series of near-misses with job seeking, finishing second repeatedly. In one case, it seemed I was the top candidate, and then the employer decided against filling the position at all.

In July, I was sitting at a stop light when a reckless driver veered around the corner and totaled my car. Two weeks later, I fell, broke and dislocated my left arm. It required surgery—and pins and screws and a metal plate— to repair.

Unable to type, I couldn’t look for work again until September.

And I’m still looking. I have a couple of hot prospects right now, with an interview on the 16th of January, so cross your fingers for me.

But I’m still under a roof. People have been generous with gifts and loans. My arm was repaired, and I am typing again. I have friends and a lovely online community.

And despite all that has happened, I have managed my major depressive disorder over this year so that I have not been bedridden, have not been hospitalized, have not self-harmed. Hard as it has been sometimes, I have placed one foot before the other and kept moving.

So this is an expression of gratitude. 2018, awful as it was personally, politically and globally, gave me enough to survive. My community and friends came through and expressed their love for me.

Particularly, I would like to thank the Atheopaganism Patrons, who provide much-needed support and keep me working on resources, theory and events for our community.

Goodbye, 2018. I have to believe that 2019 will be better, even as it’s clear that it will be a crazy ride in the political sphere.

I thank you all for your part in helping me to ride out the past year. May we all prosper and thrive in the next.

In the Cold Midwinter

Today, the Wheel turns again: a new year is born and the sun begins its long swing back to warm the northern hemisphere.

It has been a challenging year for me. I have been unemployed the entire time, and survival has been a severe struggle. But one bright spot in my life has been Atheopaganism and the growth of our community.

I wrote over a hundred posts to the website this year, on topics ranging from sigils and candle rituals to rites of passage to sexual ethics in the Pagan community. We had guest posts on various Atheopagans’ practices, and we selected a beautiful symbol for our tradition: the suntree.

On Facebook, our community has swelled to more than 1,200 members, always with active, interesting conversations and exchanges, and a shared tradition of the Friday Night Virtual Fire most weeks. It’s a warm group, supporting each other in various ways, and we have celebrated births and other announcements happily.

We’ve held gatherings for rituals and socializing, and presentations at Pantheacon. I’ve made new friends. And my personal practices have evolved and deepened.

In all, it’s been deeply satisfying, the Atheopaganism of 2018. I’m grateful to each of you who has been a part of it.

These dark nights are rich for contemplation. We see so much of the worst of humanity displayed to us these days, and perhaps it’s my contrary nature, but that leads me to think about the very best of us: freedom, and courage, and kindness, and wildness, and creativity, and care.

My effort in this world is for these things. For liberation in the societies of humanity, and humble devotion to the green glories of the living Earth. For pleasure and joy, and responsibility and dedication. For courage and integrity and service.

And speaking from the standpoint of one who has been unacknowledged recently by those we see as credentialing us—jobs, capitalism, enterprise—I say we have value beyond what we are paid for. I say that what we stand for things that are important, economics notwithstanding.

Who you are is a jewel, a treasure. What you bring to the human table is needed and of value.

It is the longest night, but not the last. We will pass on into the next cycle of being.

May your Longest Night be passed in warmth and comfort and surrounded by love. And may the coming year be your best yet!