Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Silent Night


 A Winter Solstice Meditation


© 2014 by Joyce Mason 



Silence.
Holy.
Between your thoughts
a winter without words
hums a love song,
a lullaby.
Peace is reborn.

Joy!





Photo Credit: © roger ashford - Fotolia.com



Sunday, December 7, 2014

What’s Your Instrument of Peace?





Play It this Holiday Season

© 2014 by Joyce Mason



W
  inter is a sacred time for people in nearly every tradition. We often complain about the crass commercialism this time of year, but consumer sales are still trumped by increased kindness and generosity, often more abundant late in the year than in all the other months combined.

During November and December, we tend to pray more in mind, heart, words and song, even if our only prayer is to thank God for loved ones. After just finishing another November Prayer Month on The Radical Virgo, I received a quiet whisper from one of my all-time favorites, The Prayer of St. Francis. (“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”)

The message was to write about ways we can be instruments of peace. Whether or not we believe in God in traditional terms, Goddess, the universe (fill in the blank with your viewpoint); aspiring to bring the music of peace to the world is a universal sentiment as we inch toward winter and its wonder-filled holidays.

I thought we could go around the zodiac and look at the various “instruments of peace” that might be played by the 12 archetypes of the zodiac—one for each of the 12 Days of Christmas, if you like. (The universe does love the number 12.) This, of course, involves seeing each sign in its highest potential.  And, of course, read with your combo of astrological influences in mind, not just your Sun sign.

Join me in meeting the orchestra! While I offer some ideas on how each sign can be an instrument of peace during the winter holidays, related to its special gifts to give, great musicians also improvise …

ARIES: Plays the hero and pioneer, instruments that take the practice of foresight and fearlessness to play well. Protects those who are “less Aries” and more vulnerable. Takes risks including being the first in the line of fire. Can play the heavy instruments for his or her physical strength and do “heavy lifting,” both literal and figurative.

    Ways to Be an Instrument of Peace: Do something for someone less able. Visit a nursing home or a program for people with disabilities, and give a lift, literal and/or figurative, to someone who is less gifted in the physical realm. “Save” one child or family through delivering gifts or doing some heavy lifting for them in one form or another.

TAURUS: Plays wealth and beauty, relishing the tactile and tangible aspects of being human. Tauruses also play their senses and completely immerse themselves in the fruits of the Earth and earthiness. Their song reminds us to appreciate the simple ecstasies of physical form. In today’s world of electronics, spinning minds overwhelmed with Information Indigestion and minimal grounding, being brought back to earth is a god(dess) send.

    Ways to Be an Instrument of Peace: Give a back rub to an elderly relative. Give or arrange manicures to the ladies at a local nursing facility. They’d love to have their hair and/or makeup done, too. Bring the men homemade baked goods and hugs. Take along and contribute some beautiful decorations—holiday flowers or plants. (A Christmas cactus blooms on for years.) Beauty soothes and unites us.

GEMINI: These versatile musicians play nearly every instrument in the orchestra, at least a little. They love a variety of music and people—and, of course, talking! Their biggest gift is communication.

Ways to Be an Instrument of Peace: Volunteer for a crisis hotline or other social service where your gift for gab will be a big blessing. Visit a homeless shelter to distribute meals, but mostly to share kind words in the process. Befriend some elderly folks on park benches who are probably starved for a good conversation. Hang out more often on social media for the express purpose of giving supportive responses to those who seem lonely or struggling during the holiday season. Give an older relative who doesn’t live online a gift certificate for “x” number of hours’ of computer services. (I am my 88-year-old uncle’s travel agent and internet researcher.)

CANCER: You are the nurturers of the zodiac. You play the instruments of home, hearth, family and ancestry. You are the nesters and create the “home for the holidays” where people want to return every year.

Ways to Be an Instrument of Peace: Not everyone is blessed with a loving family, so consider opening yours to those in need this year. They can be friends or a needy family you learn about through church or work connections. Do “family history” kinds of gifts for your relatives—scrapbooks or written genealogy reports. My husband converted all his family 8 mm. movies to DVD for his sisters one year. I gave several relatives a gift book containing a postcard history of the town where they were raised. Research your family crest or coat-of-arms. The places that provide them offer all kinds of gift options. Your baked goods and homemade Christmas ornaments or accoutrements will wildly bless those without such homey touches. A well-known astrologer who happens to be a Cancer once told me she is sure Santa has some Cancer in him, so enjoy this time of year where just being yourself is easier than ever and even more appreciated.


LEO: You are the Sun! And on a cold or lonely winter day, your mere presence can light up a room and everyone in it. Whatever you play, whether it’s your own voice, an actual musical instrument or when you are just playing around; you belt it out from the heart and with gusto. You help others find their own heartbeat and shining self, especially on dark days when they’re losing their spark.

Ways to Be an Instrument of Peace:  You’re well known for your capacity to entertain, so consider volunteering at a hospital and doing skits, a clown act or leading some holiday carols. It’s all about being your shining self in darker corners of the community. The places you could take your show on the road—and you can recruit others into your troupe!—are nearly endless: children’s homes, elder care facilities or veteran’s homes to name just a few. You’re great at Toys for Tots distributions, being a big kid no matter what your age and spreading happiness like a wildfire. Your local library might need some story tellers for the kiddies, and if you have one of those Leo, radio-announcer type voices, you might have a gig for every winter holiday season to come.

VIRGO: Much like Gemini, words can be your instrument of healing and helping, especially the written variety. Service is so important to Virgo, and you don’t shy away from any fussy details that might be involved in delivering. You’re also great with your hands and crafts. You’re so good at separating what’s good from what’s not; Santa could recruit you for his sort-it detail to figure out who’s naughty or nice.

Ways to Be an Instrument of Peace: You’re the Chosen One of the Zodiac for writing heartening letters to soldiers during the holidays. With your flair for detailed description, you can give a glimpse of your life and express your appreciation to the servicemen and women who make it possible. Don’t undervalue how much healing and help you can give people in your annual holiday letter, which can be much more intimate than the “standard” and more stale fare many of us receive. In sharing your inner struggles and triumphs, you truly connect with others and bring them the peace that comes from feeling more related to someone cherished but far away. Offer an essay to your local paper on what the winter holidays mean to you. And volunteer for the holiday committee for your organizations, where your writing skills will be appreciated for skits and rewriting the words of Christmas carols to customize them according to what matters to your group. Don’t forget how Virgos love small animals. Help your shelter this season. You can write the copy that will draw people to adopt all the fur babies that need homes—or take home a couple yourself.

LIBRA:  Relationships, beauty and peace itself are your turf, and you have such talent for bringing people together in harmony. Never underestimate the value of beauty. I learned this from my cat Duffy who, along with his littermate Darrin, had Libra Sun exactly conjunct my Venus in Libra. He was the most beautiful being, inside and out, and this gave my life such a touchstone of serenity, just being in his presence. Your instrument is “getting along” and your song is Let’s Get Together.

         Ways to Be an Instrument of Peace: Your holiday decorations and personal adornments (seasonal sweaters, earrings, etc.) will bring more joy and goodwill than you can imagine. They delight! Be the impetus for getting old friends together, especially the ones you haven’t seen in a long time. Sponsor an “orphan’s holiday dinner.” This is something I still plan to do someday, an idea I got from the too-short-lived TV show set in Alaska, Men in Trees. The local bar owner—it was a place that also served food—held this dinner every year for people who didn’t have family to go to. Especially people who are recently single would likely appreciate being adopted by a family for the holidays. Volunteer for peacemaking organizations or for your favorite politician who supports these principles.

SCORPIO: You have the gift of depth like no other, and you know emotions 10 feet beyond their normal parameters. You understand death, dying, birth, rebirth—and living with pain. These are among the most unique gifts of the zodiac. Even though you often play your music and instruments in a minor key; your contribution can be major.

Ways to Be an Instrument of Peace: Become a hospice volunteer. There’s no time more difficult than losing loved ones during the holiday season. Your ability to understand and empathize with grief will be such a blessing. Many, if not most, people have limited experience with the death and dying process. You have the stuff to ensure them it’s all part of the amazing circle of life. On the birth side of this equation, volunteer to help a new single mom who needs support, especially if she has few family or friends on hand. Like Leo, you also have the gift of drama and can star in any of those meatier holiday plays, the kind that make you think and grow like Scrooge. Volunteer for a crisis line or any way your ability to listen and empathize in depth will heal hearts during the holidays.


SAGITTARIUS:  You play all the exotic instruments of faraway lands, and you have a gift for bringing people the blessings of other ideas and customs. You can be the ambassador for an idea whose time has come--letting go of the concept of “political correctness” in favor of “loving inclusion.”  There is so much richness in multiple traditions. Those who practice them have the right to be heard and included in our winter wonderland.

Ways to Be an Instrument of Peace: Throw a holiday party with the explicit purpose of mixing it up among many different kinds of believers and people. You love a party, and who knows what kinds of interesting entertainment and learning will result? Play some games around how each culture’s tradition has parallel ideas this time of year. This isn’t hard to do, as it all started with the stars, Sun worship and the Winter Solstice. Send greeting cards that are inclusive and be willing to be a “professor” on all these things as questions of both differences and likenesses of celebration come up this time of year. Invite people to a film night, a holiday movie that’s not just all-American Christian. Maybe a documentary on winter celebrations around the world. Have fun with it!

CAPRICORN:  You play stability and tradition. You join Cancer on the axis of home/hearth and worldly concerns, often bringing home the bacon for Cancer to cook—an oversimplified, archetypal way of saying how you “provide” at so many levels. You’re a natural leader, both at home and in the office. Your organizational skills and how you hold the energy and space for family business and rituals is a treasure.

Ways to Be an Instrument of Peace: Be the logistics guy or gal this season. Not everyone is good at mapping out how to get the job done, even if they’re good at doing it. Plan the store runs and shopping lists, the schedule for getting the decorations up and who’s doing what. Same goes for parties and family calendar. I personally have six holiday events this year to attend within two weeks. How does that multiply in a family of four? There aren't enough days in December! If you’re the boss, bring joy to the workplace by letting people off early, giving generous bonuses and reminding yourself and everyone around you that the best work comes from a “work family.” Let people look up to you to take the lead, and be in your element. You are the epitome of the good father archetype, regardless of your gender. Since you’re so good at providing, open your checkbook in the spirit of the season to causes that need your support.


AQUARIUS: Your love of progress and all things unusual spice up any holiday gathering along with your gregarious nature. You play percussion, the instrument that sets the beat and often surprises.  You’re the life of any party with your interesting views, and you are devoted to many causes and can help them raise funds and awareness during this most charitable time of year.

         Ways to Be an Instrument of Peace: You have a gift for upsetting the applecart and are fully capable of doing it in the most positive way. This time of year, that can be more fun than being Santa himself. Go on a Pay It Forward campaign. Pay the toll or buy the coffee for the person behind you in the drive-through. Hand out dollar bills (fives or tens if you can afford it) at random at the mall and wish the recipient a happy holiday from their secret Santa. Show up at the doorstep of an estranged friend or relative with a peace offering. With your excellent computer skills, you can volunteer to run an e-donation program for any of your favorite charities or fund a family with a heartfelt story in need of help via website donation programs such as Go Fund Me. You’re very good at building “buzz,” so make a YouTube video and help your cause go viral. Blog about the results of your giving experiments and inspire others, while you’re at it.


PISCES:  You are music itself, dancing to the beat of the cosmos and sensing both every need of humanity and the love that binds us with All That Is. Your compassion is legendary—your giving so complete, you don’t need a special holiday to celebrate “doing unto others.” You are an expert at blissful states and the experience of Oneness. You’re what this season is all about.

Ways to Be an Instrument of Peace: If you have literal musical talents, use them to bring peace and joy this Yuletide. “Music is the universal language and love is the key.” You believe in music! Start a sing-along at the mall of favorite carols or tunes such as the aforementioned classic by Mac Davis or John Lennon’s Imagine. With your love of spirit and all things spiritual, it’s a great time to volunteer at churches or churches without walls, such as the more “freelance” celebrations of spirit many people hold during the holidays to celebrate Winter Solstice and/or multiple holidays and belief systems. You are a great meditation and ritual leader. At this time of year, your talent to bring bliss and multiply it are the loaves and fishes of an uprising of spirit to carry this feeling into action for months to come.



Merry Everything you celebrate!
Peace, Joy and Love.




Photo Credit:  © Comugnero Silvana - Fotolia.com



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Favorite Holiday Posts Wrapped with a Bow!





The patron saint of The Radical Virgo is Chiron. One of the things Chiron rules is recycling. So here are some posts worth a second go-round, annotated for your choosing pleasure!

From funny to sign self-revealing, these bits of wisdom will warm your heart along with your hot chocolate and suggest appropriate gifts. There’s even a link for shopping ideas by zodiac sign from Your Fairy Godmother!

Humor: Gifts for Every Chiron Sign (9-Dec-09) This most popular holiday post of all time on The Radical Virgo serves such an important purpose. The holiday season can bring up old wounds like nobody’s business, especially when you combine high stress with relatives.  How many family fights have started at the holiday dinner table? Even when we vow to be on our best behavior, unresolved injuries, irritations, and family enmeshment can cause a person to go Scrooge without creative intervention. Here’s my suggestion. Shop their Chiron signs!

Zodi-Yuks: New Year’s Resolutions from Aries to Pisces (26-Dec-10) Don’t know if any one of our zodiac characters can keep these, but they’re bound to keep you laughing.

Ho-ho-hilarious from Aries to Pisces.

How respecting and celebrating everyone’s beliefs is peace in action.

Celebrate This Momentous Winter Solstice! (5-Dec-12) While geared to the long-awaited sky signatures of 2012, this post has Solstice rituals you’ll enjoy having in your repertoire every year.

Holiday Shopping for the Stars and Your Favorite Stargazers (12-Dec-13) Featured author, Mary English and her Sun Sign books.f

Enjoy Auntie Joyce’s take on which carols “belong” to which signs. It’s hard to laugh and sing at the same time!

The Twelve Days of Solstice—and Other Cracked Carols  (10-Dec-13) A classic rewritten for astrologers and astrology lovers, just in time for your Astro-group’s holiday party … or just for your own amusement.
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Photo Credit: © Mariia Pazhyna

Friday, November 28, 2014

Chant at the End of Our Prayers






From the ground, from the stone,
From the windswept sky,
From the flaming fire’s cone,
From the flowing water’s sigh,
Our prayers are filled with good intentions,
faith and love and peace.
We raise our hands up to the sky,
These prayers we do release!

May the strength of our circle
And the power of our intentions
Serve all for whom we pray – in the highest good.

~ Modified from a traditional pagan ritual

~~~

Photo Credit: © Nikki Zalewski - Fotolia.com

This is a Prayer and Gratitude Month post.

Note from Joyce: I belong to a small women’s spiritual support circle. When we pray, we have a plate of tealight candles as our major prop, set in the center of the circle. Each of us mentions someone who needs our prayers and the reason why. There are usually several prayers per person over the course of the ritual. As we alternate our prayer requests, we name the person or intention three times as we light a candle for each individual or cause. Example: Tom, Tom, Tom; or An End to Hunger, three times. Our last prayer is always Peace on Earth. (There’s a prayer for which three repeats hardly seem like enough.) Finally, we say this closing chant together to send our intentions out to the universe. One of the things I like most about this chant and earth-based spirituality is how they honor the four elements of which all things are made, emphasizing our part of the ecosystem of heaven and earth.

This share seemed like the perfect way to end this year’s prayer month on The Radical Virgo. Speaking of sharing, if you have special ways you pray, especially with others, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to hear from you in the Comments.