Composting the Old Year

The backyard compost pile is easily the most magical place of my family’s suburban home. We alternate layers of kitchen scraps with dry brown leaves, and in about a year the pile transforms our coffee grounds, onion skins, apple cores, and carrot tops into rich, dark brown compost, which I use to fertilize our herb garden or young fig trees. The compost pile is a very real, close, concentrated example of life’s most fundamental magic: fertility from rot, life from death.

IMG_2410Gulf Coast toad in our compost

Continue reading “Composting the Old Year”

10 Picture Books for Naturalistic Pagan Families

Listed below in alphabetical order by title are ten of my favorite Naturalistic Pagan-friendly picture books. In addition to all of the well-known benefits of reading aloud with the children in your life, the stories and artwork in these books foster wonder, creativity, deep reverence for nature, appreciation of ecological and cultural diversity, and commitment to justice. If, like me, you enjoy giving books to the children on your winter holiday list, any of the books below would be a great choice. Or if, like me, you grew up watching Reading Rainbow, and you find picture books too delightful to give up, this list is for you. Continue reading “10 Picture Books for Naturalistic Pagan Families”

Three Stones for Samhain: A Silent, Solitary Ritual

“We build on foundations we did not lay. We warm ourselves by fires we did not light. We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant. We drink from wells we did not dig. We profit from persons we did not know. We are ever bound in community.”

–The Rev. Dr. Peter S. Raible

I relish ancestor work, and not only at Samhain; an ancestor offering was my first pagan daily practice, and ancestor work remains a deeply meaningful component of my faith. A year-round ancestor altar sits on a bookshelf in my living room. It includes a variety of keys to remembering ancestors of blood and spirit: photos of my grandparents and great-grandparents, a fossil from a nearby creek, and photos of beloved pets who have passed away.

At Samhain I experience a strong call to the ancestors and to silence. The following is a silent, solitary ritual response to this moment on the Wheel. To do the ritual, you will need three stones, your journal, and a pen. I like to place these items on an altar, with flowers, photos and other reminders of my ancestors, and a candle, but it is not necessary to have an altar. To prepare, memorize the ritual mantras or print them on a notecard to have close at hand. Outdoors or indoors will work, as long as you are in a place of safety and relative privacy. Continue reading “Three Stones for Samhain: A Silent, Solitary Ritual”