I haven't posted here in almost exactly a year. A lot has gone on in the that time, some good, some bad. In that time I have become a grandmother to a beautiful little girl named Lilly. She simply sparkles!
I have a new job now working as an arts facilitator at Aspire of Western NY. I never understood how people could say that they love their job until now! I truly do.
I have been experimenting with some different media with some success. This was my latest one titled "Solace". It is a 16"x 20" mixed media of oil and acrylic paint, glue, kosher salt and pancake syrup. Yes, you read that right. It was quite fun to do and turned out great. The client that commissioned me is very, very happy with it and that makes me very happy.
My next project is repainting an old slot machine. To be honest, I am not looking forward to this but it's for a friend. I can tell it's going to be very tedious work and not a lot of creativity is involved. Oh well, the things we do for friendship!
I promise to post more often. Now that I feel my life is getting somewhat "normal", my creativity is coming back. I hope you'll join me now and then!
Easter as we know it, is actually derived from two ancient traditions, Judeo-Christian and Pagan. Both have celebrated the resurrection on or after the Spring equinox for thousands of years. Many of the elements of the Christian observance of Easter were originally derived from the Pagan celebrations. Yes, really.
The name "Easter" originated with the name of an ancient Goddess. Easter was named after Eostre the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring-"eastre." Similar Goddesses were known by other names in ancient cultures around the Mediterranean, and were celebrated in the springtime. An alternate explanation has been suggested-the name given by the Frankish church to Jesus' resurrection festival included the Latin word "alba" which means "white." (This was a reference to the white robes that were worn during the festival.) "Alba" also has a second meaning: "sunrise." When the name of the festival was translated into German, the "sunrise" meaning was chosen in error. This became "ostern" in German. Ostern has been proposed as the origin of the word "Easter". Who really knows?
Oh, and guess what else, Sunday is named after a Pagan sun god-Solis. In Latin “dies solis” means “day of the sun”. It’s funny, but the Middle English word “sone”, Old English “sunnandoeg”, German “sunnon-dagaz” and Ancient Greek “hemera Heli(o)u” all have the exact same meaning-“day of the sun”. So Sunday -- Sun's day.
Just what is a Pagan? The term “Eastern religions” refers to Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc. The term “Pagan” or “Neo-Pagan” refers to a collection of separate religions that share many themes. A Pagan religion is a faith that has been reconstructed from beliefs, deities, symbols and practices of ancient religions. Druidic is an ancient Celtic religion; followers of Asatru is a pre-Christian Norse religion; and Wiccans trace their roots back to the pre-Celtic era. Other Pagans follow Roman, Greek, Egyptian or other ancient traditions. The term “Pagan” should not be confused with Satanism. I’m sure to many people, any religion other than theirs are all varieties of Satanism. Wrong. Many of the Christian practices come from PAGANS!
For example, these have been derived primarily from Pagan traditions at Easter time: Hot Cross Buns-At the feast of Eostre, the Saxon fertility Goddess I wrote about earlier, an ox was sacrificed. The horns became a symbol for the feast and were carved into the ritual bread to be eaten. How does an ox have anything to do with “Hot Cross Buns?” Well, “buns” is derived from the Saxon word “boun” which means, you guessed it, “sacred ox”. It was later on that the symbol of a cross was used to decorate the buns. The cross then represented the moon, (the heavenly body of the Goddess) and its four quarters.
Every Easter people buy Easter Lilies, right? The Pagans revered this flower as a holy symbol associated with the reproductive organs-it was considered a phallic symbol. Uh-oh, don’t tell my mom that.
The Easter Sunrise Service can be traced back to the ancient custom of welcoming the Sun God at the equinox-when daytime is about to exceed the length of nighttime. It was a time to celebrate the return of life to animals and plants alike.
Now, the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs-The symbols of the Norse Goddess Ostara were the hare and the egg. Of course, both represented fertility and the resurgence of life. A pagan god fell for the lovely Ostara. He took the form of a hare and left brightly colored eggs by her door each morning to woo her. Well, who wouldn't fall for a cuddly little bunny? April, in Anglo Saxon, Old High German, and some modern German dialects, is called "Ostara's month." Dyed eggs were part of the rituals of the Babylonians. Eggs were sacred to many ancient civilizations and formed an integral part of the ceremonies in both Egypt and the Orient. Dyed eggs were hung in Egyptian temples and regarded as the regeneration of life.
Easter Sunday falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after MAR-20, the date of the Spring Equinox. If you don’t believe this, check a calendar. There will be a full moon on March 28 and Easter Sunday is on March 31. Easter Sunday can fall on any date from March 22 to April 25th. The year-to-year sequence is so complicated that it takes 5.7 million years to repeat.
Of course, pagans did not celebrate the death and resurrection of a sacrificed god in the spring. As Christianity began to replace the Old Religions, old and new customs blended into the modern holiday traditions we know today. All else aside, whether you are a practicing Christian, Wiccan or Neo-Pagan, the Spring Equinox and Easter are a time of renewal and rebirth. Winter finally releases its hold on the land and Earth awakens once again.
I said something yesterday to a friend that really made me think about myself and how I have been handling things the last few years. Connie just simply asked, "How are you doing, really?" Now, you must remember that most people ask "How are you?" and really don't want, or expect an answer. A rhetorical phrase, I suppose. But she asked and she truly wanted to know.
So I told her.
In the process of speaking, though, my brain was whizzing away. And then, I said it.
I told her that if I knew a person like me and what has happened in my life in the past couple of years, I would tell me to cut myself a break and quit expecting so much from myself. It made me really think about what I would actually say to myself if I could.
This is my conversation with me.
"Since 2008 you have been through breast cancer, a bilateral mastectomy and five other surgeries for reconstruction.
You fought tooth and nail, heart and soul to keep Kevin alive in 2008 while you yourself went through chemotherapy and the physical and emotional issues that come with it. You lost your hair and only cried a little bit about it. You lost your breasts in August of 2008 and handled that with dignity. A positive attitude and love from your parents, Kevin and friends helped you through it.
You did everything you could to keep Kevin somewhat healthy for the next two years-preparing gluten free foods, making sure he ate, badgering, cajoling, whatever it took and always loving him no matter how sad, sick or angry he became. You studied hard and got your Bachelor of Arts degree with a 3.89 average during this time. So much for "chemo brain".
Yes, you lost three friends in that time; people that meant the world to you, but who couldn't or wouldn't accept the changes in you and in Kevin. But you gained so many more people in your life.
You started a new job you loved last year, only to have circumstances and ignorant people ruin it.
You took care of Kevin in his last few months, never letting him lose his dignity no matter what. You listened to him, let him cry and cried in his arms. You "stayed close" just as he asked you to.
Through this, your own heart was breaking knowing you would eventually lose him, but you truly, truly did not believe he would leave you. You never, ever gave up the hope that he would survive, not until that last breath came at 6:20 PM on August 5, 2010.
You, my dear, kept your promise to Kevin and you made sure he died in the cabin he always claimed he built for you, long before he even knew you, because of a Gordon Lightfoot song. He died with you and Terri hugging him and talking to him, with the hawks whistling overhead. He passed surrounded by love."
I would say, " You have seen your father lose both legs, go through many related illnesses and lay in a bed in a nursing home for over a year and a half. You have watched his spirit slowly break. You have seen your mother's hope and heart be crushed by it all.
You have tried to help Kevin's mom through the horror of losing a child, Chalan with the loss of his father and the grief of Kevin's friends and loved ones.
Through it all, you had to deal with your own sadness at the loss of your best friend, companion, lover and champion."
And finally, I would simply say this to me:
"I can't believe your strength and I am so very proud to call you friend."