GREETINGS

Itís hot, and the heat wave may be around a while.† Drink plenty of fluids, and use care around the Mother Ė a great deal of the vegetation is very dry.

The columns in this newsletter were submitted for the last one; kindly overlook any date discrepancies.

We are still seeking officiants for November and December of this year, and everything but the OFM nearest to Imbolc is available in 2002.† Please contact Southwynde, Catherine, or me if you would like to present a ritual to the group.

I have a separate column this month; itís part rant, part thinking aloud, and part plea.† Let me know what you think.

óAlia

EARLY AUGUST OPEN FULL MOON

The early August Open Full Moon will be on Friday, August 3, 2001, at 7:30 PM, at the First Unitarian Church, 1400 Lafayette, Denver, CO.† The doors of the church open at 7:00.† We like to begin at 7:30.

This OFMís ritual will be presented by Kilsharion and will be in her Lycian tradition.† I know this is the first time I have had an opportunity to experience her tradition, and it should be an interesting and educational experience.

óAlia

THANKS AND A TIP OF THE HAT

For early June:

Hearthstone thanks Illuna and friends for an effective releasing and empowering ritual at our June OFM.† Air, Fire, Water and Earth were powerfully invoked in turn.† Each element was used to release negativity, sickness, hurt, anger and unwanted feelings.† We were then reminded of the Goddess in our hearts, and empowered to be in balance with the elements and our inner light and darkness.† Thank you for sharing with us a beautiful and purifying ritual.

For late June:

Thanks and a Tip of the Hat to Coven of the Black Dragonfly for Hearthstone's June OFM.† Participants were encouraged to clarify a Wish for ourselves.† We empowered our Wish with strong chanting of "We are the flow, we are the ebb, we are the weavers, we are the web."† Each person pulled a ribbon from a basket, and discovered guidance from the Goddess & God as to making our Wish manifest.† Thank you!

óArynne

SUGGESTED DONATION

We have determined that our break-even point is about $3 per person.

We arenít going to start collecting at the door, and no one will be turned away for not having a donation.† However, we would like to suggest a donation of 3 to 5 dollars per person.† (The extra is to cover the pagans that canít swing $3.)† If you canít afford it, you are still welcome Ė if you can afford more, weíd be delighted to accept it.

NOTE:† Hearthstone is a church and your donations to Hearthstone are tax deductible.† If you would like to write a check so you can keep track of your donations, we can certainly handle that as well.† And if it is simpler to write a check occasionally rather than come up with a few bucks every month, believe me, we understand!

ECO-PAGANS FOOD BANK

The Food Banks at Wings requires some replenishing.† Here is what is needed:

This list was provided courtesy of Dragonhorse.† If you would like to bring food to the OFM for the food bank, we will make sure it gets there for you.

KITCHEN WITCH AND THE VOLUNTEER GARDEN

We didnít plant a garden this year. At the optimal planting time we were unsure if we would still be living in the same house by harvest time and there didnít seem to be any reason to do all that work. So weíre surviving on plants that voluntarily reseeded after last yearís garden was finished.

We now have an amazing assortment of herbs and vegetables, growing in the oddest places. There is oak leaf lettuce in our lawn, strawberries in the dog run, and some of the herb pairings are downright laughable. The peppermint/horseradish cohabitation is one of my favorites, with the apparently polyamorous lemon balm/spearmint/rosemary happily taking over in a different corner. The apparent affection between oregano, bay leaf, and volunteer tomatoes is likely to raise eyebrows among our more conservative neighbors but to us it makes perfect sense.

But the sage stands alone. We planted three kinds of sage last year, each in a different part of the yard. We planted pineapple sage next to the cilantro (the cilantro, sadly, did not reseed. Nor did the tarragon. I will have to remedy this.) We had purple sage (I am NOT making that up) next to the tomatoes, and tri-color sage in the flower garden. Now, the tri-color sage is making some shy advances towards the spearmint but other than that, these mighty plants are holding their own against any attempts at encroachment by neighboring herbs or, for that matter, by unwanted weeds. The purple sage in particular is taking on tree like proportions, towering at two feet high (quite tall for a second year culinary sage) and spreading into about an eighteen-inch radius circle.

Two other surprise returnees are our sweet onions (I have no idea what variety they are because the little tag is long gone) and Yukon Gold potatoes.

I knew I had to create a recipe to honor our volunteer plants. The onions and potatoes are weeks, if not months, away from harvest, but they are available at the fruit and vegetable stand down the road so I thought an herbed onion and potato soup would be ideal. Served with a bread that incorporates tomatoes and more herbs in the dough, it was a wonderful salute to a garden that obviously loves us enough to come back despite a season of neglect.

I only have room for one recipe at a time, so here is the soup recipe:

HERBED ONION-POTATO SOUP

(serves 4)

Heat butter and oil in stewpot and add onions. Saute onions until soft and translucent, about 7 Ė 10 minutes. Add half of the fresh herbs and saute for one minute more. Add stock, vinegar, and wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes to an hour. Add potatoes and remaining herbs and continue to simmer, stirring often, until thoroughly blended and heated through. Season to taste. Just before serving, top with grated parmesan cheese if desired.

ALIAíS PONDERINGS

Last month, I got a call from a UU pastor who was working at a shelter for men trying to get back on their feet.† He had been speaking to a fellow who was Wiccan and in some trouble with the law (not related to the religion).† Iíll refer to the Wiccan fellow as Don, and the pastor as Joe.† He made some phone calls, and eventually through the tangled phone vine, reached my spouse, who called me.† I talked to the pastor for some time, going over Donís situation, and agreed to meet with first Joe, then Don.

Joe called me on a Friday afternoon.† I work downtown, and the shelter was nearby, so I shut down my office for the weekend and hustled over to the shelter.† Unfortunately, Don wasnít aware that I was coming to see him, and he had gone to pick up his paycheck.† However, I got to spend a half hour or so talking to Joe and telling him a bit about Wicca and Hearthstone, along with my dreams for the church functioning in the greater community.† I left my cell phone number for Don, and Joe dropped me off at the bus station for my ride home.

Monday I heard from Don, and arranged to meet with him after work.† I started with the obvious question:† What do you need from me?† He told me he mostly needed to talk to someone; oh, and he would like Joe and I both to be in court with him the next day at 8 am.† Joe had already agreed to be there; I didnít have time to make appropriate arrangements, so I could not attend the hearing.

This irritated me (privately Ė Don already had enough to worry about) because I would have been very willing to be there, if someone had told me about it earlier so I could be there.† Don and I did talk for about three hours.† He gave me some things to think about, and I hope I did the same for him.

A while back, there was a column on the Internet about how when a Wiccan woman had a child in the hospital, the community did not support her.† It wasnít in Denver, but gypsy spotted it and passed it on to me, because she knows that ministry to those who need someone is part of my Goddess-given avocation, and she thought I might have an opinion.† I certainly did Ė and gypsy turned that response into a nice reaction column and posted it with the womanís plaint.† (I should point out that when Alyria was born critically ill, the community rallied around me with impressive strength and support.† This did color my reaction to the column, which is why gypsy reworded my response.)

Before that, Iíd occasionally seen comments or complaints along the lines of ďwhen I was sick, no one came to see me and see how I was doing!Ē† This also bothers me.

I see personal responsibility as one of the prime tenets of Wicca, my religion.† To me, all of the incidents I describe are greater or lesser abdications of personal responsibility.† Theyíre also symptomatic of one of my favorite rants:† Iím not a mind reader!† I have to know you want me there before I will show up.

Wicca is a non-proselytizing religion.† Itís also one that doesnít pay the clergy.† Both these factors mean that I or any other Wiccan are not likely to be cruising around looking for someone to help.† I have a full time job, a family, and many commitments.† Iím willing to make other commitments, once I know about them.† In addition, since we donít proselytize, we also tend not to want to "intrude" on someone who isnít doing well, physically or emotionally, unless we know that the person would welcome the "intrusion."

Don wouldnít have talked to any Wiccan before his court date if Joe hadnít taken it upon himself to find me.† Don didnít even ask Joe to find me Ė Iím very glad Joe took the initiative and found me anyway.† Don probably would have had access to Wiccan clergy sooner if he had directly asked Joe to see if he could find someone, or if he had gone to or called any of the fine metaphysical shops in the area.

The woman with the child in the hospital simply expected her clergy to come calling Ė after all, the hospital chaplain came, and was nice and helpful, but no Wiccans showed up for her.† Right now, I have my name with exactly one hospital chaplain Ė most of them donít seem to be interested in using Wiccan resources.† Did she tell anyone in her community that she needed the support?† We still arenít mind readers, not even after three more paragraphs.† When I was in that situation, we called out the troops.† After Alyria was moved to Childrenís Hospital, a Wiccan nurse recognized her name from the birth announcement at the OFM and immediately signed up to care for her in the NICU.† We called friends, and they called friends, and while I was separated from my baby, I was never left alone.† Some of my friends even refused to leave when the nurse tried to shoo them out, because I had made it clear I needed my friends there.

Iíve done hospital visits before.† In order to make sure I am not intruding, if Iím not familiar with the patient, I will call someone close and offer my services.† Then, that person can check with the patient and see if they want me to come by.† If they say yes, Iíll come by.† Iíll call a circle, give energy, pray, do whatever needs to be done.† Then Iíll leave my phone number and tell the patient to call me if they want me to come back.† I donít want to become more of a hindrance than a help.

So here is my challenge to each of you:† Make use of your community!† If you need help, ask!† It doesnít have to be someone from Hearthstone.† Remember that many of us are quite willing to help, if you tell us what you need.

CHILDREN AND THE GODDESS

I had a great column planned out for this Moon, but the little heathen came down with a terrible case of poison ivy. The opportunity was suddenly there to teach her meditative breathing.

If you've never had poison ivy (and according to Lyon it doesn't grow in Colorado), then you are missing out on one of the most awful itchy days of your life. But the experience it gave to Melanie can be used for any small or large trauma with a child.

I taught her deep, easy breathing. Inhale for three counts, hold for three counts, exhale in a sigh. Wait three more counts and start again. It amazed me to watch the tears disappear and the itching to calm down long enough for her to fall asleep. It reminded me that many opportunities with my child can be turned into a lesson for her.

We also attended a Midsummer festival this weekend put on by the small, but growing, pagan community in West Tennessee. I just want to say kudos to the many pagan parents I met in Denver. You are truly an inspiration to me and I hope to pass along what I learned to the parents in the new community we are involved in. Why?

It was a little upsetting to me to see so many children with little respect to Mother Earth and no circle etiquette. I'm far from an expert myself, but I wanted to remind everyone that our children learn from our example and teaching. The busy season of festivals is in full swing now and these are just a few things to remember:

1.       If children are not invited to be in circle, be sure there is a responsible adult around to keep them busy and quiet. There is nothing more disturbing than a child barging in through the west screaming at mom to ask for a soda.

2.       Many festivals are held outdoors in national and local parks. This is a wonderful time to teach children respect for the Earth. Beating trees with sticks and rocks, tossing paper and other garbage into water, not cleaning up after eating... we don't do it, so remind the children not to also.

3.       If you plan on attending festivals with your children and see no activities planned for them, volunteer to plan a few! Gather a few other parents around and perhaps work out a schedule with the children. Remind the festival planners that the children are a part of this and need activities just as the adults do.

4.       Be responsible for your children. Often times, one child with a parent wanders off on a little nature hike and before you know it, more children are involved and the parent of the first child is left watching out for them all. Take turns keeping an eye on the kids, but don't let one parent take the burden of them all.

5.       Even if you don't have children, never be afraid to speak up! Most pagan parents don't mind a bit, especially if said children are about to jump off a cliff. Gently, but firmly, tell the children to stop. A good tactic is "How do we want to do this? Do you tell your parents or do I?" We want our children to enjoy themselves, but not get hurt. As parents, we are responsible for our children, but as a community we are responsible for each other.

6.       Enjoy the time you spend with children. They grow up way too fast.

GUEST COLUMN

This is actually the second column that Morgan wrote for the newsletter.† However, I exercised my editorial privilege, and decided that this column weathered the delay better than the first one.† (I also gave his column a name, which he may or may not appreciate.)† --Alia


CEREMONIAL MUSINGS

The Necessity of Structure in the Group Environment.

The other day, somebody happened to insult me Ė they said that the group that I run has structure.† Personally, I take great pride in the lack of structure and hierarchy that the group has.† So, it took me several minutes to figure out what in Hades they were talking about.

I will admit that an outsider might think that there is structure in the group.† They would by very wrong.† If they actually attended a meeting, they would learn that chaos and disorder are the normal state of the group.

So how did they draw that oh so very wrong conclusion?† Simple: it is a Golden Dawn study group.† It annoys me that people think that all ceremonial magicians are anal-retentive, hierarchical, over-bearing, degree bragging egomaniacs.† Some of them are.† I also know a few witches that I could say the same about.† But I digress.

The most important question I want answered is: Can a group survive and accomplish something without having structure?

Over the span of my magical career, I have been a member of over a dozen groups.† I have been present at the death of several groups.† Having too much structure will kill a group, and so will having too little structure.

A happy medium of structure and organization is the goal.† Too little structure and nothing gets done.† Too much structure and you are guaranteed to end up with a power-abusing leader.

So exactly how much structure is needed?† Just enough to get the following done:† To make sure that the group has enough resources and organization to accomplish whatever the group intends to do.† Thatís it.† No more, no less.

So how does a group accomplish this goal?† I personally prefer the irregular lodge system.† An irregular lodge has no charter (think coven without a proper lineage), it exists merely on the sufferance of its voting members.† Ever member who has done their fair share of contributing towards the success of the group for the last six months should have a vote, hence a say in how the group conducts business.

Everything the group does should be agreed on by the majority of the members, provided that the decision does not cause the minority to leave the group.† There should be one officer, whose sole job is to figure out acceptable compromises.† That officerís chief concern is the continued welfare of the group.

Officers (yes, I hate the term Ė officer Ė I have been waiting for two years for the group to invent a better term) should be elected by the vote of the members.† Members should serve in less important offices before being elected to the more important ones.† Officers should serve limited terms: six months, a year maximum.† Replacements should be trained before the officers spontaneously combust.

Dues, a necessary evil to ensure a group has the supplies, and occasionally the space needed to get stuff done, should be set by the vote of the members.† No money making pyramids need apply Ė the account book is subject to a sudden audit.

The only area where a group should have any sort of hierarchy is curriculum.† And the hierarchy should translate into "Teach students in a manner where they can make sense of the material; never teach somebody before they are ready to take responsibility for their results; and remember the goal is to produce competent, responsible practitioners."

OK Ė maybe the group I am running does have some structure.† In my defense, I would like to state:

One, the members elected me, and
Two, I am a Virgo Ė therefore blame lies elsewhere.

©May 2001, Morgan Drake Eckstein

GUEST COLUMNS?

If you have something to say, and are willing to let Alia edit it slightly, (generally for grammar Ė I have the soul of an English teacher) please feel free to submit your writing.†† Content will not be edited.†† We can usually make room for more voices.

STANDARD DISCLAIMER

Please note that information and opinions contained in the articles in this newsletter are the responsibility of the authors only.† No endorsement by Hearthstone Community Church, Inc.† is implied.†

Open Full Moon Dates

2001

August 3
August 31
September 28
October 26
November 23
December 28


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