Archives For thanksgiving

Happy Thankgiving

The Wild Hunt —  November 26, 2014 — Leave a comment

Whether this is a day of thanksgiving or mourning (or even “unthanksgiving”) for you and yours, may you find contentment, happiness, and peace.

The Wild Hunt will be taking the rest of the day off to cook, bake and spend time with loved ones. But first, we would like to offer thanks to each and every person who reads, comments, and supports this site. As we move forward from another successful fund drive into the festive season of lights, it is your continued support that brings us back here each day.You have given us a reason to be thankful this season. So thank you!

Public Domain [Pixbay]

Public Domain [Pixbay]

Happy Thanksgiving

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 28, 2013 — 2 Comments

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” – Meister Eckhart

Whether this is a day of thanksgiving or mourning (or even “unthanksgiving”) for you and yours, may you find contentment, happiness, and peace. The Wild Hunt will be taking the rest of the day off to cook and spend time with loved ones. I’d like to give thanks to everyone who reads, comments, and supports this site. As we move forward from another successful funding drive, you all give us something to be thankful for. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

Communal harvest altar at Faerieworlds 2013.

Communal harvest altar at Faerieworlds 2013.

Regular posting will resume tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 22, 2012 — 5 Comments

Whether this is a day of thanksgiving or mourning (or even “unthanksgiving”) for you and yours, may you find contentment, happiness, and peace. The Wild Hunt will be taking the rest of the day off to cook and spend time with loved ones. I’d like to give thanks to everyone who reads, comments, and supports this blog. As we move forward with our renewed independence, you all give me something to be thankful for. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

Cornucopia photo by Jina Lee @ Wikimedia Commons

Cornucopia photo by Jina Lee @ Wikimedia Commons

Regular posting will resume tomorrow.

In the growing darkness of November, the sacred fires are lit by the wisdom keepers of our age!

Thanksgiving TurkeyIt’s Sunday again. Last week, I wrote about the growing popularity of one U.S. holiday – Halloween. Now, a week has passed and, collectively speaking, America has turned its attention to yet another holiday – Thanksgiving. With that shift come new decorations, sacred family traditions, and most importantly, a squeaky-clean mythos involving a big ship, a bunch of Pilgrims, and of course, the “Indians.”

With that in mind let’s consider reversing the thread from last week’s post in which I examined a spiritual holiday going secular. What if we ushered in a secular holiday, Thanksgiving, with a definitively spiritual experience? What if we could reach into that modern American mythos to find a deeper meaning through a connection to the very spirit that resides within these lands? What if we could celebrate that spirit in a traditional way with the elders of the indigenous populations?

Creek Elder Sam Proctor

Sam Proctor
Muskogee (Creek)

This past weekend, the Sacred Fire Foundation made this a real possibility. In Atlanta, Georgia, the Foundation hosted its annual Ancient Wisdom Rising retreat. The annual event is a gathering of community elders from a across the globe who guard that ancient spirit – the one that emanates from deep within the Earth. Each year, these wisdom keepers come together to share their stories, offer counsel, and demonstrate the ancient traditions that have survived for centuries.

Over the years the retreat has been held in a variety of locations including California, Washington State and New York. This year the event was back on the East Coast. Coming to Georgia, specifically, was a powerful choice for the Foundation because it paved the way for a spiritual and ancestral reunion for one of the visiting elders: Sam Proctor. As written by their Board of directors:

“Almost two centuries since the removal of his People from Georgia, Mr. Sam Proctor, respected Muscogee (Creek) spiritual leader from Oklahoma, returns to the shores of the Chattahoochee River to share his message of peace and time-tested wisdom about a heart-centered way of living.”  (From Ancient Wisdom Rising, September Newsletter)

Marie Junaluska

Marie Junaluska
Cherokee Elder

After visiting the retreat site near the banks of the Chattahoochee, Mr. Proctor said, “The Ancestors are still here.” During the weekend, he shared Muskogee traditions and, with other members of the Muskogee Nation, led a traditional Social Fire Dance welcoming the attendees to the land of his ancestors.

Joining him was Marie Junaluska, a Cherokee elder living in Western North Carolina and Kevin Welch, Cherokee Master Gardener. Their people’s ancestral heritage can be traced to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia, Western North Carolina, and Eastern Tennessee. Like the Creek, the Cherokee were forcibly removed from Georgia and made to walk the infamous, “Trail of Tears.” Despite this painful history, the Cherokee spirit lives on.  Ms. Junaluska has been sharing, teaching and passing on the Cherokee culture and traditions for over thirty years.  And, Kevin Welch speaks out for the preservation of heirloom plants and growing techniques native to this Southern landscape and the Cherokee people.

Grandmother Walking Thunder

Grandma Walking Thunder
Navajo Medicine Woman

In addition, Ancient Wisdom Rising welcomed two other elders from North American indigenous cultures. Grandmother Walking Thunder, a healer and sand painter, shared the spirit of the Dine’ Medicine People (Navajo) and her experiences as a medicine woman. Coming from Alaska, Larry Merculieff of the Aleut Peoples shared the Aleutian teachings on the Oneness with Nature and the Great Womb of life. He is a one of the last Aleuts to be fully raised in the traditional way.

Larry Merculieff Speaks:

The Sacred Fire Foundation also invited wisdom keepers from cultures originating outside of the U.S. Sobonfu Some’ of the Dagara Peoples of West Africa’s Brukina Faso shared the traditions of her people.

From Southern Asian traditions, Marcy Vaughn, a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism and Bon, led a visualization and a talk on compassion. And, Ustad Ghulam Farid Nizami, a Sufi from Pakistan and a 17th generation musician, shared the healing powers of sound and music.

 

Marcy Vaughn

Marcy Vaughn
Tibetan Buddhism and Bon

Not everyone has the opportunity to attend a comprehensive inter-spiritual event like this. However, in reading the stories and watching the videos, it is possible to understand why these elders are reaching out to help humanity through their ancient traditions. More importantly, it is possible to understand how their teachings can help us rediscover our own connection to the Earth and benefit our journey, no matter what the path.

Once again, my thoughts return to the secular Thanksgiving – a holiday that focuses on community, compassion, tradition, and natural abundance. Can we re-sculpt the mythos to breathe a new spiritual life into that holiday? The story centers on an indigenous population, the “Indians,” teaching the new inhabitants, the Pilgrims, about the land and its creatures. It ends in a peaceful shared community feast that we now replicate every November.

Can we bring the spiritual into the secular? Can we transform this myth to focus on the teachings of the wisdom keepers who strive to bring humanity back into balance with Nature? Can we rededicate Thanksgiving to that ever sacred and shared wisdom that passes effortlessly from hand-to-hand, from drum beat to drum beat, from the heart to the heart through the eternal spirit fires of this wonderful Earth? And what if we did….

 

Earth

Courtesy: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center

 

An Aside: I realize that there may be some readers who are not well-versed in Native American history, specifically that of the South East, or know much about Thanksgiving. Click on the following links for quick background reads:

About Thanksgiving from The History Channel
Native Americans in Georgia: Link Page with lots of Information. Or, go directly to the Cherokee‘s or Muscogee‘s site.

Happy Thanksgiving

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 24, 2011 — 4 Comments

Whether this is a day of thanksgiving or mourning (or even “unthanksgiving”) for you and yours, may you find contentment, happiness, and peace. The Wild Hunt will be taking the rest of the day off to cook and spend time with loved ones. I’d like to give thanks to everyone who reads, comments, and supports this blog. All of you give me something to be thankful for.

Cornucopia photo by Jina Lee @ Wikimedia Commons

Cornucopia photo by Jina Lee @ Wikimedia Commons

Regular posting will resume tomorrow.

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 25, 2010 — 2 Comments

Whether this is a day of thanksgiving or mourning (or even “unthanksgiving”) for you and yours, may you find contentment, happiness, and peace. The Wild Hunt will be taking the rest of the day off to cook and spend time with loved ones. I’d like to give thanks to everyone who reads, comments, and supports this blog. All of you give me something to be thankful for.

Regular posting will resume tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 26, 2009 — 20 Comments

Whether this is a day of thanksgiving or mourning (or even “unthanksgiving”) for you and yours, may you find contentment, happiness, and peace. The Wild Hunt will be taking the rest of the day off to cook and spend time with loved ones. I’d like to give thanks to everyone who reads, comments, and supports this blog. All of you give me something to be thankful for.

Regular posting will resume tomorrow.

Top Story: Today is the beginning of the Gadhimai Mela in Nepal, a massive festival that occurs every five years in honor of the Hindu goddess of power, involving the mass-ritualized slaughter of over 250,000 animals.

“The world’s biggest animal sacrifice began in Nepal today with the killing of the first of more than 250,000 animals as part of a Hindu festival in the village of Bariyapur, near the border with India. The event, which happens every five years, began with the decapitation of thousands of buffalo, killed in honour of Gadhimai, a Hindu goddess of power … The dead beasts will be sold to companies who will profit from the sale of the meat, bones and hide. Organisers will funnel the proceeds into development of the area, including the temple upkeep … Chandan Dev Chaudhary, a Hindu priest, said he was pleased with the festival’s high turnout and insisted tradition had to be kept. “The goddess needs blood,” he said.”

The high-profile ritualized slaughter of so many animals has gained international attention from animal rights activists, including French actress Brigitte Bardot, who told the Nepalese Prime Minister that “hundreds of horrified tourists report their disgust at witnessing ritual sacrifices at various festivals in Nepal”. Also attempting to halt the animal sacrifices was Ram Bahadur Bomjon, the famous “Buddha Boy”, who met with organizers and plans to appeal directly to participants. Local opponents included the Anti-Sacrifice Alliance and the Animal Welfare Network Nepal. But the appeals have fallen on deaf ears and rural Nepalese along with throngs of Indian tourists have flocked to the gathering, animals in tow, to gain the blessing of the goddess, whom they believe will grant their wish within five years.

“Kushawa, who belongs to the opposition Maoist party that claims to be atheists, said almost 75 percent of the visitors at the fair – whose main attraction is the slaughter of tens of thousands of birds and animals – are from India. “While they are mostly from Bihar, there are others from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and other Indian states neighbouring Nepal,” he said.”

This rite no doubt shocks the sensibilities of many Westerners, who see them as unnecessary and barbaric. Then again, the slaughtered animals are cooked, sold, and eaten, so the main differences seem to be the religious aspect, and the fact that the slaughter is open to the public. America, by contrast, doesn’t  (usually) allow people to attend or sanctify their slaughter-houses. To compare scale, perhaps a half-million animals will be ritually killed at the Gadhimai Mela, while Americans will eat 45 million turkeys for Thanksgiving alone, with 250 million grown in 2008. We also killed and consumed over 34 million cows. Is context king? If they were kept out of sight, not ritualized, would we not care? I don’t think Bardot or the “Buddha Boy” are planning a trip to America’s meat-packing plants any time soon. How much of this outrage stems from people not conforming to what we consider civilized?

In Other News: We start off “below the fold” with some good news for South Jersey Vodou priest Houngan Hector Salva. Salva was embroiled in controversy after the death of a transgendered woman at a three-day Vodou cleansing ritual this past Summer. Officials have ruled the death accidental, and not suspicious.

“Her death – which was never considered suspicious — was ruled accidental on Monday by the Camden County prosecutor’s office and the case was closed. Lucie, a male-to-female transgender, died from the combined effects of “physical exhaustion, ambient room temperature and an oxygen-depleted atmosphere,” according to The Daily News.”

While Salva has been cleared of any criminal negligence, Lucie’s mother calls him “young, stupid and negligent” and wants people to know that her daughter died under his care. Salva has already moved from his former home, after the flurry of sensationalist press made it nearly impossible for him to continue his religious practice there.

The FBI has released hate-crime statistics for 2008, and offenses against religions are up across the board. This includes 212 offenses against “other” religions in 2008, up from 140 in 2007. Making up 12.8 percent of total religious hate-crimes. Unfortunately we have no way of telling who the “others” are, but we do know it isn’t any of the Abrahamic faiths (each of whom have their own category), so it’s probably of mish-mash of Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, and all the other “Others” combined. As ominous as this rise is, what isn’t reported may be even scarier.

“The FBI’s report reflects only the information gathered by participating law enforcement agencies. Experts warned that the numbers may reflect different standards for what constitutes a hate crime, as well as the inability of some law enforcement agencies to coordinate the report because of budget constraints. “The most frightening thing about these numbers is what goes unrecorded,” said Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, the Hispanic civil rights advocacy group.”

One has to wonder how many hate-crimes get ignored by non-participating law enforcement agencies, and how many want to report these crimes but just don’t have the resources to do so. Addressing a problem often starts with having the data to support that there is, indeed, a problem. Let’s hope the FBI’s data improves, and that we someday learn who, exactly, the “others” are.

The press have reported on two Thanksgiving interfaith events that included Pagans and Wiccans, the first in Madison Wisconsin (sponsored by the Greater Madison Interreligious Association), where Selena Fox from Circle Sanctuary talked about Wiccan harvest festivals.

“Like many other religious groups, Wiccans have a tradition of giving thanks in connection with the harvest season, said the Rev. Selena Fox, of Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan church near Barneveld. Some contemporary Wiccans celebrate the first harvest at the beginning of August, the abundant harvest in September, and the end of the harvest in late October, Fox told a group of about 100 people Sunday during the fourth annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration.”

Meanwhile, Modesto, California’s Inter-Faith Thanksgiving Celebration included Pagans for the first time. The Pagans performed a song-chant, and local Pagan Edye Cheeseman said that it felt “very inclusive, very nice.” Both events seem like a warm-up of sorts to the up-coming Parliament of the World’s Religions, the largest interfaith gathering in the world, where the expected Pagan presence is thought to be substantial. More on that soon.

In a final god-adapting-to-modern-times story, it seems that the city of Chennai in India has flocked to the worship of Iraniamman Amma, the “highway goddess” to avoid accidents and ensure a safe journey on the roads.

“Daily thousands of vehicles stop by and queue up at the Iraniamman temple to offer prayer on the highway including two wheelers, autos, cars, buses, lorry drivers, etc People from across the nation come here to worship the highway goddess in Chennai, which keep them away from the deadly accident on that accident-prone highway. “The reason for coming here to this goddess is that I need to go safe and come back safe too. That’s why I always come here, put the lime before the vehicle and do the puja, for a good, wonderful and safe journey. I am a catholic but I do believe in this because it is a highway Goddess,” said Jude, a traveller.”

Which leaves me with the question, which god or goddess in your pantheon handles highway safety? How about computer health? How have your gods adapted to modern times?

Happy Thanksgiving

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 27, 2008 — Leave a comment

Whether this is a day of thanksgiving or mourning (or even “unthanksgiving”) for you and yours, may you find contentment, happiness, and peace. The Wild Hunt will be taking the day off to cook and spend time with loved ones. I’d like to give thanks to everyone who reads, comments, and supports this blog, all of you give me something to be thankful for.

Regular posting will resume tomorrow.

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is over, and we are all headed back to our normal routines (with the addition of Winter Festival planning). It is a pity then, that we had to wait until now to read Latino religious scholar Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo’s examination of the Thanksgiving holiday, and why he thinks “turkey day” has become “Earth Religion”.

“What has so radically changed an event whose origins were clouded by violence, exploitation and bigotry? The answer, I think, is that the anniversary of the vengeful European and Pilgrim abuse of Native Americans has become identified with Earth Religion. It is a common practice in most of the religions around the world to celebrate the final harvest and the last meal with cold-weather “fresh” food – meaning pumpkins and cranberries in Massachusetts – before being confined to eating only preserves during the winter. Christianity, particularly in its Catholic incarnation, proved astute in syncretizing its beliefs to the rhythms of Earth Religions. The original Calvinistic Thanksgiving Day of 1621 has become today’s relevant religious festival, I think, because it was syncretized with the Native American and other Earth Religion celebrations for the coming of winter. Thus, there is more to celebrate here than a turkey dinner or even the restoration of the extended family in American experience. Rather let us give thanks for the porosity of Christianity to Earth Religion. The meaning of the day no longer rests upon the dominance of one religion, such as that of the Pilgrims, which conquered the other one belonging to the Native Americans. While that power equation defined the original Thanksgiving, today equality and tolerance is celebrated instead. What joins us now is recognition of how Mother Earth is the necessary material connection to what is spiritual.”

So next year as you bake that pumpkin pie, roast the turkey (or tofurkey), say a cursory opening prayer amongst throngs of relatives, and enjoy ritualized combat spectacles (football games), you can do so with the knowledge that you are all celebrating the earth/harvest goddess in a syncretic holiday mixing Christian piety with pre-Christian harvest motifs. A situation that any good polytheist could endorse (between mouthfuls).