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Posts Tagged ‘Lent’

new-moon-blessings

The 2nd New Moon in the same sign in a 30 day period is called a Black Moon. Those who believe in the power of magic say this Aquarian New Moon (at the last degree of its sign) is extra potent for bringing things into fruition. It is also a Super Moon with the moon’s path being at its closest point to the Earth. As I suggest every month, during the dark new moon, take time to set your intentions for the next 30 days. Yet, know the next few weeks are also a time of inward contemplation as the Sun entered into the sensitive feeling sign of Pisces, just minutes after the new moon, inspiring us to finish moving through Winter and preparing us for big new Spring plans.

Yes, we are in the midst of hol(i)days that are calling us to get ready for Spring. On Wednesday, Christians began Lent which simply is a preparatory time for Easter. Four years ago, I wrote a blog post about how I create my own rituals for Spring renewal based on my Christian roots and my connection to nature. Today is also Chinese New Year which is a honoring of  new beginnings with the start of Spring in China. Those who celebrate this Chinese custom have spent the last several weeks cleaning their homes, paying debts and making amends to start the Spring season anew! One of the Chinese customs for this holiday is to honor the animal that is a symbol for the new year following Chinese astrology. 2015 is the year of the “Wood Sheep”. It is a year to connect more with the feminine side of life and open up to creativity, beauty and love. A great time to seek solutions to last year’s problems by opening up to new sources of inspiration.

Are you ready to shift to a new way of being? To really start manifesting your dreams? The New Moon is an opening to our future by supporting our connection to something larger than ourselves. To honor Chinese New Year and inspire you during your meditations for the next 2 weeks, I leave you with music from Asian Dreamland:  

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A Prayer for Spring

from Leunig’s A Common Prayer:

Dear God/Spirit,

We celebrate spring’s returning

and the rejuvenation of the natural world.

Let us be moved by this vast and gentle insistence

that goodness shall return,

that warmth and life shall succeed,

and help us to understand our place within this miracle.

Let us see that as a bird builds its nest,

bravely,

with bits and pieces,

so we must build human faith.

It is a simple duty;

it is our highest art;

it is our natural and vital role

within the miracle of spring:

the creation of faith.

Amen.

Lent’s Ancient Roots?

I found some of the info for this article regarding the history of Lent on the internet earlier this week on a couple of “Restored Church of God” sites. Some of the info also came from dictionary sites that explain the meaning of the word lent. I did not do a lot of research on the background on this topic, but feel there is truth that Lent’s traditions come from pagan roots just as with other christian holy days.

Coming from the Anglo-Saxon Lencten, meaning “spring,” Lent originated in the ancient Babylonian mystery religion. “The forty days abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshipers of the Babylonian goddess…Among the Pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz…” (The Two Babylons).

The Feast of Tammuz was usually celebrated in June (also called the “month of the festival of Tammuz”). Lent was held 40 days before the feast, “celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing”. This is why Lent means “spring”; it took place from spring to early summer.

But why did the church at Rome institute such a pagan holiday?

“To conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgamated, and, by a complicated but skillful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity….. to shake hands” (The Two Babylons).

The Roman church replaced Passover with Easter, moving the pagan Feast of Tammuz to early spring, “Christianizing” it. Lent moved with it.

Before giving up personal sins and vices during Lent, the pagans held a wild, “anything goes” celebration to make sure that they got in their share of debaucheries and perversities—which is how many folks today have come to celebrate Mardi Gras . In some countries such as in the United Kingdom the day is often known as Pancake Day. Making and eating such foods was considered a last feast with ingredients such as sugar, fat and eggs, whose consumption was traditionally restricted during fasting associated with Lent.

Christian Lenten Traditions

I always knew Christmas and Easter traditions were connected to nature based religions, but I never thought about lent. I guess because I never thought it much of a holiday especially with all the focus on “giving things up” having grown up as a Catholic. The season of Lent for those faithful to their christian religions goes from Ash Wednesday to Easter. Christians use a variety of rituals that include solemnly marking their foreheads with ash, “fasting” (or abstaining from certain foods or physical pleasures) for 40 days. This is done to supposedly to imitate Jesus Christ’s 40-day fast in the wilderness. Some folks give up smoking. Others give up chocolate. Still others give up over-eating or cursing. When I was a child, I also had a “Lenten bank” in which I gave up part of my allowance in dimes to give to some charity. People basically vow to give up anything, as long as it prepares them for Easter.

My Lenten Springtime Rituals

Today, I still follow some Lenten rituals, but I have recreated them to honor who I am today while still acknowledging what I value from my upbringing. Since I very much honor the cycles of nature, I spend time in meditation reflecting on what I need to release to move out of winter and open up to a  new season that emphasizes rebirth and growth.

1) I usually do at least one or more 24 hour silent meditation time during Lent. Good Friday is usually a very quiet reflective day for me. I actually usually spend it in nature. For a number of years, I have been communing with nature and praying to Jesus, Mary and other christian deities on the grounds of the St. Francis Retreat Center in Andover, MA which is not too far from where I grew up.

2) I don’t give up any particular foods for Lent. During my childhood, I loved the fact that we had pizza a lot of the time on Fridays during Lent. When I am in a silent retreat, I will eat very simply. Also this year, I will do some kind of  internal cleanse since I have learned that the beginning of Spring is one of the best times to rid the body of toxins. See spring-detox-cleanse-and-recharge-for-radiant-health

3) I also have already started doing some Spring cleaning. Getting rid of old stuff (recycling books, changing beliefs about myself, ect.) and making space for all kinds of new possibilities in my life. Making clear conscious decision for you and your home can be a very uplifting and spiritual experience. See cleaning_spiritual_act.htm

4) Finally, I prefer to reflect on how I can be more “Christ like” by giving than giving up something. Tomorrow I will meditate on where I will focus my energies to be of service for the next 40 days. Here is a website that shares ideas on how to live life more fully during lent by giving: about.html

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