Monday, April 25, 2005

Ok, this is bizarre...

One wonders if Ananova forgot to file that in the "Quirkies" section...

Beltane Babblings

Despite the fact that we had snow (!!!) this weekend, we are approaching the holiday that for the Celts marked the beginning of summer, as their seasons centered on the solstices and equinoxes, instead of beginning with them. For those unfamiliar with Neo-Pagan holidays, May 1 is called Beltane. Traditionally, it is the celebration of the union of Goddess and God. This symbolism obviously comes from the natural and agricultural cycle, as this is the time of year when animals find their mates and the earth becomes a glorious montage of spring colors. Earth-based worship groups often celebrate this with a little healthy hedonism. (For that matter, non-Earth-based, non-worship groups do too, as anyone knows who has lived in Indianapolis and watched the crazy celebrations surrounding the Indy 500. It's the closest Indy gets to Carnival or Mardi Gras. :) )

A few years ago, under my Pagan pen name, I wrote an essay about the symbolism and deeper meaning of the holiday, that I thought I would share here in honor of the holiday, and in hopes that the weather will reflect the time of year more accurately, and soon! :)

The meaning and mysteries of Beltane
aka Beltane Babblings :)

The mysteries of Beltane are cloaked in sexual imagery because that's the closest human analogy to the relationship between the Divine and humanity. Even Christianity resorts to this in calling Christ the Bridegroom of the Church. And because Wicca is a mystery religion, a spirituality filled with things that can only be perceived, experienced, 'grokked', rather than truly explained, Wiccan symbology is sometimes mistaken for the mystery itself. So, at the risk of trying to put the wordless into words, here are my random thoughts on the mysteries of Beltane.

Beltane is about desire. But then again, all magic is about desire, and all religion is about desire, and even the Wiccan Rede, "An it harm none, do as thou wilt," is about desire. Knowing your true will is harder than it sounds. It's a congruence of deep heart-longing and intellectual choice. It involves acknowledging the need for wisdom, AND knowing yourself, AND being honest enough with yourself to allow yourself to want, to accept your heart's deep longing. Not to merely settle for what you 'ought to' do, or what you're 'supposed to' do, but to know what, deep down inyour soul, delights you. Richard Boles, in discussing a sense of mission in an essay in the book, What Color Is Your Parachute?, talks about a vision of our sense of mission in life as a moment in time where "as quickly as God said 'I want', my heart cried 'Oh, *yes*'." Beltane is about finding where your heart cries "oh, yes", and moving to find that.

Beltane is also about being naked. Not necessarily nakedness of the body, but nakedness of the soul, of removing the veils we put up between the world and our true self: even of removing the veils we put up to hide our true desires from ourselves. It is of allowing ourselves to be seen, by the gods, by each other, by ourselves. Because there is no way to *know* the heart's desires if you don't look at yourself honestly, nakedly, and see all of what is there, the wrinkles of soul as well as body, the parts that could use toning. And there's no way to know the heart's desires if you are unable or unwilling to celebrate the *beauties* you see there as well, beauty of body, beauty of soul. Beltane is an invitation to see ourselves and each other through the mirrors of the Gods, through the mirrors of love, rather than through the filters our society tries to brainwash us into believing - that there are 'ought to's' and 'should's' and standards you have to meet before you are beautiful. Beltane is an acknowledgment that sheerly by existing you have inherent beauty, the beauty of the Maiden and the Lover in their passion for each other. Because since we know that the Gods are within us as well as without, Their passion for each other, Their beauty, must be ours as well.

Beltane is a time to accept our naked selves, accept each other, and celebrate our beauty in mind, spirit, heart, and body all, because like the four elements, all are needed. We don't ignore our bodies. We don't supress our desires. We accept and rejoice in ourselves as interconnected parts of the whole, balanced, not hoping for a far-off solely spiritual reward but recognizing that we can make the here-and-now its own kind of reward by taking joy in every moment, and in all parts of ourselves.

Finally, Beltane is about finding that kind of heart-delight in the Gods as well as in our own desires. It is about finding that joy in the Mother, our Earth, in the awakening of nature, the greening of trees, the feel of the Spring breezes, the young Sun just testing his strength, the return of the birds, of flowers spilling raucously across fields that a month ago were brown and barren. It is about remembering the mystery of rebirth, the promise that nothing ends that is not again reborn - and what better way to celebrate thepromise than by having a party out somewhere where we are surrounded on all sides by proof of this rebirth? If a Beltane celebration is an orgy of any kind, it's an orgy of the senses, of seeing the world around us with full awareness, not simply passing through in a daze of schedules and worries. It is of being awake in nature, using smell and taste and feel and sound and sight to renew our awareness of the connection between ourselves and all others. It is of recognizing Divinity in ourselves, and each other - of truly looking at one another and saying, "Thou art God/dess", not in the sense of being perfected or somehow exalted, but in the simple recognition that by simply existing we partake in creating our own world, our own lives, through our beliefs and actions and hopes and dreams, and that that act of creation is a sharing in the Divine powers of creation. The Goddess recreates the world daily - through us. So Beltane is a celebration of our power to create, in any and all fashions, and through that ability to create, a sharing in our own God and Goddesshood.

I hope this makes it clearer that Beltane is not 'merely' a celebration of 'an orgy in the woods'; and if your choice for Beltane -is- an orgy in the woods, that is part and parcel of a much deeper mystery. As humans, perhaps our strongest creative drive, the drive that most echoes our own divinity, is the drive to reproduce. And as humans who interact with other humans, perhaps the time we are the most ourselves, the most in touch with our true desires, and the most accepting of both another person and who we ourselves are, is in the arms of a lover. But those are not the only ways we can show creativity, be vulnerable, be honest, and connect with each other and the Ground of Being: those are simply some of the most obvious ways. Part of what the Wiccan mysteries involve is sanctifying everyday activities such as lovemaking, finding the holy in everything. And part of the Wiccan mysteries is finding those mysteries in actions less obvious. And neither is more or less a mystery than the other, and neither is more or less holy than the other.

Where you find mystery, where you find magick, where you find delight is as individual as anything else in Wicca. An it harm none, do as thou wilt. May we all enjoy the mysteries of Beltane, and find the courage to honor the longings of our hearts.

Brightest Beltane blessings,
Beltane, 1997 CE
updated and edited April 2005

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Interesting reversal

You've known people who seem to want God/Goddess/a Deity/the Divine to exist so they have someone on which to blame bad things, right?

I find I want the Divine to exist so I have someone (Someone?) to be grateful to when things go well. Really, I mean that. When my heart is filled with gratitude, I want to be able to say "Thank You!" to something more than the unanthropomorphic Universe. Although the Universe will do if there's no one else out there to thank.

This realization is partially fueled by how well my personal life is going at the moment, but also because we had our recognition dinner for the last SAP release last night. I helped emcee part of the evening, designed the award plaques, designed the appreciation certificates, created the closing presentation/entertainment, and had the great surprise and pleasure of two different people saying that their "favorite funny memory" of the project was something I had said or done. (For the record, one was the names of the re-labeling logbooks - the Interim Labeling Log, or "ILL", the Handling Unit Re-Labeling Log, or "HURL", and the Business Objects Log, or "BO Log". :) The other was a submission I made to - from that link, look for the definition for "proceduralize".) I had many compliments on my award design (I'll see if I can figure out a way to post it here later) and my singing (I'll also try to post what I recorded for the closing presentation) from not just co-workers but upper management, which was gratifying.

It is an amazingly satisfying feeling to have worked on a project which, for all that there are some residual issues, was the most successful of 10 system releases, and to have things I can point to and say "That particular success was directly due to my efforts." That's not something I have been able to experience in my career before, and really makes the 50, 60, and even 70 hour work weeks worthwhile. (Though I do hope I don't have to repeat those too terribly often on this new release. Between family and personal life, I really can't afford THAT much time out of my life now!)

It was also great to see everyone again, as some of the folks there I hadn't seen since we rolled off the project in late January. Amazing how the basic psychology of "put them through h___ together and they'll bond" really does work. :)

And I don't want any of this to sound like bragging, because I do not intend it that way at all. Before this year, my career has been more often filled with written warnings for lateness than successes (and part of the reason I can be successful on this project is that people give me a lot of slack for not being a morning person, in exchange for the amount of creativity and extra evening hours I'm willing to put in). And situations like when I was assistant site manager for a consulting company, and when the manager left, the company hired an outsider that knew nothing technical about IT instead of promoting me, in part because they knew I would train the new manager well. (That was also the time when I found out that members of my team were asked privately by HR, "What are you looking for in a new manager?" and they answered "Suzanne." Blew me away - I didn't think I'd been all that involved in their jobs. But perhaps the fact that I left them alone to do their jobs was what they liked!) So I've had my share of unpleasant work moments.

But right now, I am using this blog to fulfill my urge to offer the universe a moment of thanks, for all the synchronicities that led me to this job. And for being given the great gift of feeling valued , which is perhaps a greater motivator for me than I ever realized.

Mea culpa

Without going into a lot of unnecessary detail, I've found out some things over the past week that tell me that I badly misjudged a situation with someone I cared about a great deal last year. Despite the fact that I knew him better than that, I was willing to believe that he was "playing" a couple people, instead of just honestly having a conflict between what he knew he needed in a relationship and where his heart was drawn.

Now I have to deal with the fact that my judgement probably added pain to what was already a lose-lose situation. Unfortunately, it's a situation where he felt the "relationship" was off-limits to begin with and therefore couldn't be acknowledged, so I can't really apologize for misjudging him because to do so would be tantamount to asking him to acknowledge what was there, which I know he does not want to do. I am not even sure I can try to re-build the closeness in the friendship without opening the door back up to the same dissonance that was there before, that would still hurt, and now also have the danger of hurting my new relationship (which is going really well, so I sure don't want to risk that!). So for the moment I guess I just get to feel badly that I did this, and watch myself to make sure I don't do the same to anyone else.

Darn it, I should know not to attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity, to quote my ex. :) Or in this case, not stupidity but insecurity, and the fact that some incompatibilities are insurmountable no matter how you feel about someone.

I'm sorry this is so vague and confusing, but I can't really explain it further without a) going into a much longer story than anyone needs, and b) making public some private issues. But since I can't apologize to him, a public confession is the only thing I can think of to try to make me feel at least a little better. Maybe someday I can point him to this. Not yet, though.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I found a Unitarian Universalist blog site...

I'll add it to the links at the side when I get a round tuit. Right now, it's First Major Milestone time on the new project, so I'm "busy, busy, BUSY" to quote the magician in Frosty the Snowman... :)

Monday, April 11, 2005

I have no other commentary to make...

When a cartoon sums it up this well, why add unnecessary words?

They don't identify the student by name in this article...

They don't identify the student by name in the article,

...but why do I guess his middle initial is "The"?

You know, like "Jimmy THE Squirrel, Mickey THE Wrench"... :)

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Only in Indiana...

I mentioned earlier that the idiots seemed to congregate in Indiana. Well, now there's proof.

Can't we, just once, get in the news for something positive? :)

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Today's lyrics...

I had no choice but to hear you
You stated your case time and again
I thought about it

You treat me like I’m a princess
I’m not used to liking that
You ask how my day was

You’ve already won me over in spite of me
Don’t be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don’t be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn’t help it
It’s all your fault

Your love is thick and it swallowed me whole
You’re so much braver than I gave you credit for
That’s not lip service

You are the bearer of unconditional things
You held your breath and the door for me
Thanks for your patience

You’re the best listener that I’ve ever met
You’re my best friend
Best friend with benefits
What took me so long

I’ve never felt this healthy before
I’ve never wanted something rational
I am aware now
I am aware now

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Ok, someone 'splain to me how they drew this conclusion...

Don't get me wrong; I'm not a fan of using the TV as a babysitter. But when I read this article, the conclusion I draw from the results is not "watching TV turns a child into a bully," it's "getting attention from parents instead of being dumped in front of the TV prevents a child from becoming a bully." Is that not a more logical conclusion, or is my mind just weird?

(wait, don't answer that last one... :) )

Monday, April 04, 2005

Back from vacation!

After wading through my 220+ e-mails and 10 voice mails I don't wonder why it's so hard for people to take vacation. :) But it was fun: we got unseasonably warm weather for northern Michigan, yay! I'll try to post pics later, but right now I'll just say that while the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb doesn't look very tall from the ground, it's darned deceptive! What a workout! :)