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2011 Pagan and Wiccan Celebration Calendar

“The Wheel of the Year”

 

The Eight Wiccan and Pagan sabbats are ancient holidays that modern Witches and Pagans celebrate still today with feasting, ritual, magic and camaraderie. Each festival offers a captivating opportunity for the Wiccan magic spells and Pagan rituals best suited to the season. Many Wiccans and Pagans choose to begin the celebration of these holidays at sundown the day before the dates given below.

Wiccan and Pagan Sabbats and the Seasons

Each of these hallmarks of the Wheel of the Year has its own special feeling in large part due to the close association between Wicca and Paganism in the natural world and its seasons. For some it is found curious that the dates of the sabbats are reversed in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres however this is to show this close association between the Wiccan faith and the seasons. Some Wiccans and Pagans slightly alter the dates the Sabbat of Imbolc which marks the return of Spring, to show local seasonal variations.

The Sabbat of Imbolc

Imbolc is celebrated February 2, 2011 in the Northern Hemisphere and August 1, 2011 in the Southern Hemisphere. Imbolc is a time of renewal and celebration for the Wiccan and Pagan community. Celebrate the return of spring with these Imbolc Spells and Rituals.

The Sabbat of Ostara at the Spring Equinox

The Spring Equinox’s Ostara, (Wiccan Easter), takes place March 20, 2011 in the Northern Hemisphere, and September 23, 2011 in the South. Ostara is a time of growth symbolized by the Spring Hare.

The Sabbat of Beltane

May 1, 2011 in the Northern Hemisphere and November 1, 2011 in the Southern Hemisphere, Beltane is a festival of fertility symbolized by the union of the God and Goddess. Fires, socializing and being in nature are all fitting celebrations at this time.

The Sabbat of Litha at the Summer Solstice

Litha or the Summer Solstice falls on June 21, 2011 in the Northern Hemisphere and December 22, 2011 in the Southern Hemisphere. The Pagan and Wiccan Festival of Litha is an important point in the Wheel of the Year; a time for celebration of the abundance of summer, as well as time to prepare for the darkening to come.

The Sabbat of Lughnasadh or Lammas

Lughnasadh or Lammas falls on August 1, 2011 in the Northern Hemisphere, and February 2, 2011 in the Southern Hemisphere. The Celtic Festival of Lughnasadh or Lammas celebrates the fertility of the harvest while offering Wiccans and Pagans the opportunity to start change in their lives.

The Sabbat of Mabon at the Fall Equinox

The Autumn Equinox festival of Mabon is September 23, 2011 in the Northern Hemisphere and March 20, 2011 in the Southern Hemisphere. The Sabbat of Mabon is time of harmony marking the beginning of the turning within for inner spiritual work over the winter.

The Sabbat of Samhain

The day of Samhain is November 1, 2011 in the Northern Hemisphere, and May 1, 2011 in the Southern Hemisphere, however the Wiccan celebrations of Samhain often begin a sundown on the day before these dates. Samhain is a wonderful time for magic and ritual along the more familiar celebrations of Halloween.

The Sabbat of Yule at the Winter Solstice

The Sabbat of Yule falls on the Winter solstice on December 22, 2011 in the Northern Hemisphere, and on June 21, 2011 in the Southern Hemisphere. Wiccans choose what to take with them into the New Year, and what to leave behind at the evocative and magical festival of Yule, the Winter Solstice Wicca and Pagan Festival.

Together, Pagans and Wiccans collectively feel the inherent meaning associated with the sabbats. The interconnectedness with nature is celebrated by maintaining traditions and rites that date from centuries past.

 

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You Are In Integrity

“You are in integrity when the life you live is an authentic expression of who you are.” — Alan Cohen

 

An Ox Trying to Foresee a Favorable Time in the Year of the Rabbit

Chinese Astrology

The Ox

The only time I’ve ever paid attention to whether I was born under Chinese Astrology’s Year of the Rat, Year of the Pig, or the Monkey has been while waiting recently for my dinner in a local Chinese restaurant, reading the animal’s names and corresponding New Year dates only to find myself ruminating why my dinner wasn’t served in twenty minutes!

I’m learning only the beginnings of this complex astrology, and so far know that:

There are 12 animal representations, associated with a branch (of which there apparently is no English translation). Each animal and its associated branch are aligned with a New Year date.  As I scan my place mat for my birth year of 1961, I discover I was born in the year of the Ox!  Further reading tells me that we are in the “Year of the Rabbit” until February 3, 2011 after which time it will be the year of the Dragon.

Lately, with my fascination for the Zodiac and my own daily horoscope, I thought I might try expanding beyond and see what my outlook may be like for 2011 according to the Chinese Astrology.

Ox Overview

The Year of the Metal Rabbit should bring progress and expansion. The Metal element exerts a beneficial influence on Water, which is this sign’s element. Last year certainly was a bumpy ride. There may still be a few obstacles in 2011, but there’ll be ten favorable months to look forward to, and only two not-so-favorable months. Being the typical Ox, one needs to work on being more flexible and less stubborn. Compromise is the mentor of teaching how to bend with the wind.  A tough and powerful creature, the Ox might butt heads with others if forceful about being right. Borrow some creativity and gentleness from the Rabbit. Raise expectations, and practice diplomacy to get what the Ox wants.

Ox Relationships

While things should stay steady on the home front, there could be a few challenging moments in the land of love. The Rabbit is strong and stubborn like the Ox, so relationships might feel strained. When dealing with other strong personalities it may be wise to show one’s soft and sensitive side to everyone, including loved ones. Harmony and order will be important this year. Work on communication skills and heal any rifts with estranged friends or family.

Ox Health

A typical Ox might be a bit of a foodie. 2011 is a good time to restore balance to your digestive system and make sure you’re eating healthy. If there are any long-standing health issues, it’s time to discuss them from a holistic approach. A sensible diet is one piece of the puzzle, but consideration of the other factors that encourage balance and wellness. Exercise. Relaxation. Meditation. Laughter. Make sure life holds equal parts of each or the Ox could burn out quickly.

Ox Wealth

As the element of our year, Metal also rules several months in 2011, including the Ox. There will be several Triple Metal days — where the element of the year, month, and day all match — which could make for some incredible luck where money is concerned. Jump at the opportunities in favorable months but exercise caution in the unfavorable ones. More than anything, it is one’s Oxen diligence that will reap the most rewards. Avoid any get-rich-quick schemes and instead just let your talents bring in prosperity.

Today’s Discovery

None of what I’ve discovered so far is really difficult to digest. For me personally, things have gotten out of hand lately and I do need to slow down a bit and check-in on those priorities. That stress level that had a hard time waiting for dinner needs things to be simpler; making sure what’s necessary is getting done without overextending one’s self.

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Wisdom of the Seasons

 

“If Winter comes, can spring be far behind?”  – Percy Bysshe Shelley

I live in sunny Phoenix, Arizona.  For those not familiar with our desert climate, we do in fact experience a period of winter weather.  We can experience some very cold temperatures during the month of January; lows can dip to below freezing at night and only reach the low to mid 50’s during the day and a relative humidity in the negative.  There remains however plenty of green and flowering plants to trick the mind when the eye shoots a quick look out the window and sees the majestic palms and the deep blue sky with seemingly unending sunshine.  Occasionally those of us who grew up in the winter grasp of the Midwest begin to long for that time of hibernation.  I know I do.  I miss snow, bundling up with hats, coats, mittens, boots, scarves and more.  I miss warming up the car and days when no one goes anywhere because the snow has us shut in for a day or two.

I have learned that we do not need to be afraid of winter.   In winter nature lies fallow in preparation for the New Year.  All life needs rest in order to grow with greater strength and winter is the time of withdrawal that precedes renewal.

Sometimes, it may seem that our lives have become dark and hopeless and we can’t see a way forward.  I felt exactly as I’ve just described, many times over.  Perhaps, it came when a relationship failed and I thought, “This really has to be the end”, or my business was going badly; money became a problem, or the loss of family ties or connections.  I became lost in my melancholy and felt that things would never get better.

I knew that I could draw some strength from the wisdom of the seasons.  Bare trees will become clothed in green and the hard earth will again yield harvests of plenty.  I learned to appreciate this transformation as it happens every year and I take hope from it.  I can see my life also as bound to change!  From this wisdom of the seasons I grew this affirmation which is ready to be plucked from my jar of affirmations when the time is right: “Nothing in my life need defeat me, since I know that spring and summer will always come again”.


The Gifts of Peace, Simplicity and Reality this Holiday Season

“Celebration is a forgetting in order to remember. A forgetting of ego, of problems, of difficulties. A letting go.”        – Matthew Fox

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I find holidays to be a real test of my personal growth. I had always been glad I didn’t have to face the holidays alone. Christmas was always spent with my best friend Keith, my sister and her partner. Until this year I was never as acutely aware of how hard as it has to be especially hard for those that have no one.  This is a good time to take care of myself and it is best to be honest, rather than jolly.  For those of us that struggle during this time of year, we can refuse to lose ourselves in old behaviors. We can focus on finding other healthy people to be around.

This holiday season has already offered me the chance to reflect on the impact my mental health issues have had on my relationships and how much sharing these special times with others really means to me.  I am also able to appreciate what I already have, and to better recognize my blessings because I have known the pain and deprivation of my illness.

Peace, simplicity, and reality all are ours this holiday season.  By letting go of expectations, and by choosing an attitude of hope and gratitude, we will soon come to know that there is much more to celebrate than we anticipated.

Positive Thinking in 2011

 

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul” .”     — G. K. Chesterton

I usually don’t do well with the “New Year’s Resolution” thing. It lasts for maybe a week or two, and then I seem to forget about the big promises made for the upcoming year; to make it different. Well this year, my emphasis, and yes, even my resolution is, to have more positive thoughts, and to “hang in there”. I will write about my quest toward more positive thinking and share with all of you my successes and failures. My sadness and joy. But at least once per week I will devote one blog to the discussion of positive thinking.

Difficulties arise in the lives of us all. What is most important is dealing with hard times, coping with the changes, and getting through to the other side where the sun is shining just for us! It takes a strong person to deal with tough times and difficult choices. But I am a strong person. It takes courage. But I believe I have the inner courage to see challenge through. It takes being an active participant in life. But I am in the driver’s seat, and I can decide the direction I want tomorrow to go in.

I will hang in there… and take care to see that I don’t lose sight of the one thing that is constant, beautiful, and true: Everything will be fine – and it will turn out that way because of the special kind of person the Universe has created in me. So… beginning today as my New Year’s Resolution and lasting a lifetime through – I will hang in there, and not be afraid to feel the morning sun is shining, just for me.

 


Christmases Past and Christmas Present

For my entire life I have anticipated the holiday season with joy.  Never have I before felt anything close to a hint of dread when it comes to Christmas.  Every year, my mother would spend literally, weeks, deep cleaning every room of the house, decorating each and every room in the house, trimming the trees; one fettered out completely in Hallmark ornaments, one upstairs trimmed in her prized and ever so delicate hand-blown antique glass ornaments and of course, baking cookies.  My mother would bake countless varieties by the dozens. Especially, her beloved “bird turds” as we called them.

My mother’s children were basically enrolled in a basic training camp for holiday preparation and style just because we lived under the same roof with her.  Each of the four of siblings seemed to have inherited those special genes necessary to pull off a holiday with tradition, whimsy, and flair.  Surely, the world would have to be in its last stage of demise should my mother not carry on her decorating traditions.  That is, until the last Christmas or two that she spent in our world, when she just didn’t have the strength to do it all.  But even still one of her children or in-laws managed to pick up just enough of the slack to make it all seem so seamless.

My last holiday spent “Mom’s way” was in 1994.  That following Thanksgiving, 1995 found me in a Camaro driving to Phoenix, Arizona as that would become my home.  Christmases here in the desert are so much different from what I traditionally experienced in the Midwest.  Sometimes it’s hard to convince yourself that it really is the holiday season; warm sunny weather, lazy lunches eaten outdoors, grilling out on the patio most any night, all trick the mind into an endless Summer.

Dutifully, I would call home on Christmas Day and talk with my Mom mostly, and any of my siblings that happened to be close to the phone.  I carried on my form of guerilla style holiday decorating adapted  to our warm Phoenix climate.  Because both my mother and her mother knew I valued cherished items kept in our family for years, and that I wouldn’t be the type to disrespect the handing down of “heirlooms,” I was given many wonderful decorations, which I still treasure today.  My own decorating style may be influenced by a little Southwest sizzle, but much of my European heritage remains.

The cookies however, never found their way into my traditions, though I must say, my sister put out some very fine efforts of her own!  To this day, those “bird turds” are baked each year by at least one former sister-in-law. What are bird turds?  They are a raspberry meringue with little mini chocolate chips inside.  The recipe is this:

Patricia Schubert’s Raspberry Meringue Kisses aka Bird Turds

3 Egg Whites ¾ Cup Sugar

1/8 tsp Salt 1 tsp Vinegar

3 ½ Tbl Raspberry Gelatin

1 Cup Miniature Chocolate Chips

Beat egg whites with salt until foamy.  Add raspberry gelatin and sugar gradually. Beat until stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved.  Mix in vinegar; fold in chocolate chips.  Drop from teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.  Bake at 250 degrees for 25 minutes.  Turn oven off and allow cookies to bake an additional 20 minutes longer.  Makes 9 dozen. (Originally adapted by Patty Schubert from “The Electric Company Cookbook”)

This cookie recipe has always seemed to be one of those constants in life, when everything around us was changing.  For me, the end of relationships and the beginning of new relationships created different though just as special traditions.  Retro, vintage 1950’s, 1960’s, mid-century design brought me back to my earliest memories of Christmas as a child.  eBay held the same adorable angel decorations my mother had, and today I coveted!  My grandmother had one of those spectacular, head-turning aluminum Christmas trees.  Of course the stand rotated, played Christmas carols, and the tree itself was lit by a rotating color wheel.  Within weeks I had new traditions and new treasures delivered to my door via UPS.

Christmas Eve dinners spent away from the family back home evolved from lasagna to chili and cornbread, to today’s tradition in our home; a variety of cheese and crackers, peel and eat shrimp with cocktail sauce, grilled tenderloin and gourmet style baked potatoes with a green salad.  The later menu is of course the priciest of the presentations made over the years, but one nonetheless carried out.  I am on a fixed income, and there have been several lean years when I thought it impossible to keep up tradition and that surely I would have to lower my expectations.

My past three partners found out early in the relationship that holidays and traditions were so very important to me.  I was delighted to know my most recent partner’s mother, Dorothy enjoyed tradition as well.  She enjoyed learning about and experiencing for herself, the traditions maintained by other families.  For our own traditions, if ever it I had to stretch too far to make the necessary purchases, Dorothy would either join me on shopping day to pick up the tab directly, or sometimes offer the cash needed to make up the shortfall.  She may have turned up her nose that first year to the thought of eating cold, cooked shrimp that weren’t even removed from the shell at the store. “Imagine that the store would think that all that work of cooking and cleaning should be left to the customer!” Dorothy complained.  Eventually, she grew to love and appreciate my traditions as much as I did, no matter how it tasted!

Christmas, 2007 was the last I enjoyed with Dorothy.  She transitioned into her next life on January 23, 2008.  Thinking back to that series of “holiday firsts without Dorothy” still brings about huge waves and channels of emotion for me.  First, the feeling of impossibility; that there was in no way I could sustain myself through a holiday without her.  There are sometimes oceans of tears and my throat can hurt from crying so hard.  Each decoration of hers I bring out to display, imagine was still maybe last touched by her, giving me a quick and close connection I crave.  As I march through my tears and maneuver my way through the days that approach Christmas, I find myself reminiscing in my mind and even laughing out loud over past holidays we shared. Finally, if even for a moment, I begin to feel my holiday space is once again shared with me by loved ones, even if departed.

Space is always opened for others to contribute to my traditions and I find enjoyment in sharing in my celebration if even from a distance.   Today, I had some thoughts in my mind and I found myself allowing me to “free-fall” into a cavern of depression, all the while fantasizing about taking every last holiday decoration I have put up, down. I would vow that, “Christmas will live here, in this house no more!”  But things change so quickly, and again appear brighter.  I decided today to rework this blog post from an earlier version, updating it and then will share it with my new friend, Dorothy’s sister, Betty.

After I finish this post and see that it looks nice on my weblog, I will play more holiday music, send a copy of this post directly to Betty with an email and then begin making dinner.  Perhaps a friend or two will stop by for a visit tonight, or maybe I will just turn off all the lights except for the color wheel beneath the tree and watch my beautiful 1961 aluminum tree dance and glow for hours.

I wish you and yours the safest and most joyous holiday season, and thank you all for the many gifts that have been given and received by me this year: gifts of love, feedback, patience, understanding, a safe space and openness making it OK for me to share my fear and confusions and any other thought in my head I have needed to get out, and our unified goals of bringing more peace and joy to all of our lives.

Love,

Mark Schmitz

 

Desire Realized is Sweet to the Soul

 

“Desire realized is sweet to the soul.”  — Proverbs 13:19

Christmas is approaching. I can recall as a child, every Christmas Eve coming home from church and running up to the Christmas tree, seeing presents – mounds of them, four huge stacks, one for each sibling, towering as high as the top of the tree itself. But even with that kind of excess, one can still experience a lifetime of deprivation. If we were deprived as children, we may still live with emptiness inside. Of what were we deprived; love, security, validation, acceptance, caring, or compassion?

I know that I like many others compensated by learning to bear the deprivation and survive. As an adult, I find myself still surviving. I settle; I don’t ask for things because I believe I don’t deserve anything. But making do with life’s crumbs has brought me to resentment, self-pity and feeling deprived. I remain a child, instead of becoming an emotionally healthy adult who feels competent and worthwhile.

I am learning where the balance is between wanting nothing and wanting everything. If I can continue to work on broadening my thinking to include such words as “plenty”, “fulfillment”, “pleasure”, and “satisfaction”, I know that only then will I start to believe there is enough of everything. It is then that I will become aware of the fullness of life around and within me. Living in the present helps me realize that I actually have everything I need in the moment.

This realization helps me feel worthwhile, competent – and even fulfilled. My prayer to the Universe today will be, “Please take away my fear of satisfaction and pleasure. Grant me an awareness of how good life is, whether it brings me what I expect.”


My Valentine’s Day 2008

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I’ve never been one for Valentine’s Day.  To me, it’s just another day fabricated by commercialism to sell more; sell more cards, candy, gifts and pressure.  To me, romanticism comes more spontaneously throughout the year.  Someone once said to me that each morning when he wakes up he says, “O.K. God, surprise me!” 

 

Although each day brings new challenges, there is one thing it won’t bring – perfection.  Today, I can expect a mixed bag of experiences with a wide range of emotions to match.  I found this quote today, and would like to share it with you:

 Every forward step we take we leave some phantom of ourselves behind         John Spalding 

If we’re feeling discouraged or negative about our life, one way to cultivate an attitude of gratitude is to look back and see how far we’ve come.  Remember, we seek progress, not perfection.  There is always something to be grateful for, including the ability to find something to be grateful for. 

 When life is so bad that I want to cry, I’ll try laughing instead. 

Hello World!

 

 

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My first blog on wordpress.com!  I am so excited to be able to share my blogs with a whole new audience.  I’ve been blogging for almost two years now on my 360 page on Yahoo!  My experience on Yahoo! has been very positive.  I started blogging on Yahoo! after my partner, Christopher created my 360 page as a surprise to me.  He did all the initial “setting up” of the page, and added as much of his own creativity as he possibly could.  I had been telling him for months how intrigued I was by the concept of blogging.  I’ve always been a conscientious one to journal on a daily basis.  For my journal, I must have the most luxurious of bound papers and I treat myself to the most expensive pen I can afford.  Journaling to me, is a release.  It’s a way for me to look back on feelings, experiences and emotions.  It’s a valuable way for me to review the lessons I’ve learned, and a chance to discern what I could have done differently in a given situation.  When I journal, I write as though no one will ever see those pages but me.  Honesty comes forth easily.

Honesty has become a theme in my life.  I haven’t always been a person of integrity or honesty.  It’s taken me a long time and its been a very difficult journey to get to the point where I am today.  My blogs are all about honesty.  My honesty.  The lessons I am learning in this life, the fears I face, about my willingness for greater spirituality in my life, about my addiction to methamphetamines, my experience with mental illness and much more.  There are individuals who may read this and find the level of honesty to which I subscribe well, unbelievable!  Unfortunately, I have either run out of chances with them to prove myself, or they are unwilling to let go of the resentments they hold on to so tightly.  To them, I shall always be “guilty until proven innocent”.   I know the commitment I make each and every day when I first get out of bed; I commit to being rigorously honest in this new day, honest in every thought, word and action.  I realize of course that I am human and prone to error, but by making this simple promise each and every day, I have grown into making honesty a habit and part of the under girding of my life.

The sharing of my honesty and my path of personal growth began on Yahoo! I quickly began making “friends” around the globe, all of whom were sharing such valuable feedback regarding my blogs.  Eventually, I realized that I was nearing 700 “hits” per day on my page!  I also began to yearn for ways to be more creative with my blogs and take my writing more seriously.  I began taking a look at my options, and none seemed better than wordpress.  Here I have an even greater audience, still from around the world, and still offering that valuable feedback.  I look forward to building a following of readers who are perhaps on the same path as I am, or maybe considering making changes in their life.  I don’t set out to change anyone with my blogs, but rather show myself for who I really am.  I’m no different than you…