Samhain 2023 online

Sacred Grove’s open circle for Samhain this year will be our first major attempt to hold the rite using ZOOM. This introduced some complications into the planning — How do you stand in a circle? Which way is East? And sealing the circle, in which we hold hands — needs some rework.

The ritual, as reworked, is included in this post.

Zoom meeting

Please note: No new participants will be admitted after 10 pm Eastern.

RedBird is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Sacred Grove Samhain
Time: Oct 31, 2023 09:45 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Meeting ID: 816 0350 3408
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New Considerations

Open Circle

The open public circle concept implies that participants may have long familiarity with Sacred Grove and the Bhakti Wiccan Tradition or may be joining us for the first time without preparation or anywhere in between.

Samhain — Visiting our Beloved Dead

Welcome to the Samhain ritual of Sacred Grove Community Circle, in the Bhakti Wiccan Tradition of the Fellowship of the Sacred Grove.

I am RedBird, and I will fill the ritual office of Bard in this rite.

This room is sealed; no one else will be admitted. If you lose your connection during the ritual, we will do our best to readmit you. This is a working we are undertaking together, supporting each other, and we can hang around and chat once we have returned from our journey.

With our voices and our mutual intentions for this rite, we will join in building the Grove that is our sacred space in this new realm of cyberspace – and in our inner worlds.

As an anchor in this world, feel the Earth directly beneath you, firmly holding you and pulling toward its center. Take a breath, blow it out, and relax.

As an anchor in this moment, reach in your mind for the sky above you, mindful of the season and time. Take a deep breath, exhale with a sigh, and relax.

Take note, from where you sit, which way is east, south, west, north. If the space is unfamiliar, look for clues in what you can see out a window or on a map or determine from the street outside. Take a deeper breath, exhale with a sigh, and relax.

And we now turn our thoughts to this space we share together.

Imagine, if you will, that we are standing together in a circle in the twilight. To our East is a table bearing a sword. To our West is a table bearing a cup. To our South is a living tree. To our North are standing stones.

Once we have formally claimed this as sacred space, I will start the sealing of the Circle by greeting one of you by name and saying “We are one.” Please then greet someone else by name and say “We are one.” and likewise until we all have joined the Circle. Last person, please greet me, and we will all respond together “We are one.”

Once we have sealed the circle, we will move as one between the worlds seeking the Mystery.

Then, we will invite unseen others to join us in spirit, if they will.



Bard speaks:

On this night when the Veil between the worlds is thin, when those who have gone before and we who still journey in Life may be permitted to visit in the care of the Lady and Lord, we approach the Mystery with awe and reverence.

Hear my warning. This is not safe. The Mysteries of Life, Death, and Rebirth have power we feel and cannot measure; they are part of our every moment, and we know them only vaguely. Those who have gone before have experience but cannot speak of all we might ask. They may hear the questions of our souls that we cannot speak for want of words – or volition. We may hear what we are not ready to hear.

We are children of Earth and Starry Heaven, beloved of the Lord and Lady, who seek to experience the Mysteries and open ourselves to Their guidance.

Let none remain who is unwilling to be changed by Their touch.


Bard speaks:

Please respond to each of the claimings with “So mote it be!”

East speaks:

In the name of the Lady of Light, and in my own name,
I claim this circle as a place of Men.
Let all within be bound to speak and hear the Truth.
So mote it be.
So mote it be.

West speaks:

In the name of the Sacred King, and in my own name,
I claim this circle as a place of Women.
Let all within be bound to Perfect Love and Trust.
So mote it be.
So mote it be.

South speaks:

In the name of the Lord of the Greenwood, and in my own name,
I claim this circle as a place of Nature
Let all within be bound in the Sacred Web of Life.
So mote it be.
So mote it be.

North speaks:

In the name of the Queen of Heaven, and in my own name,
I claim this circle as Sacred Space.
Let all within be open to the presence of God and Goddess.
So mote it be.
So mote it be.

Sealing the Circle

Bard speaks:

We have stepped beyond time, to a place not of Earth.
In the presence of the Lord and Lady, we join together and are one.

Bard greets one person by name and says “We are one.” That person greets another in like manner.

When all have been greeted, the last greets the Bard. Then all repeat together, “We are one.”

Inviting the Guardians

East speaks:

To this circle of mystery and honor, I call for one to stand
in the place of the Sword,
To teach us courage and discernment and to uphold
the pillar of the East.
Guardian of the Sword, Hail and Welcome.
Hail and Welcome.

West speaks:

To this circle of celebration and mystery, I call for one to stand
in the place of the Cup,
To teach us compassion and understanding and to uphold
the pillar of the West.
Guardian of the Cup, Hail and Welcome.
Hail and Welcome.

South speaks:

To this circle of remembrance and mystery, I call for one to stand
in the place of the Tree,
To teach us of life and change and to uphold
the pillar of the South.
Guardian of the Tree, Hail and Welcome.
Hail and Welcome.

North speaks:

To this circle of sacred Mystery, I call for one to stand
in the place of the Standing Stones,
To teach us reverence and awe and to uphold
the pillar of the North.
Guardian of the Standing Stones, Hail and Welcome.
Hail and Welcome.

The Mystery

Welcoming the Lord and Lady

Bard speaks:

We welcome You, Lady&Lord, to this sacred circle.
As we journey to meet with our Beloved Dead in Your Presence,
we remember Your Charge to Your children:

Friends, hear now the words of the Great Mother who is called Isis, and Freya, and Brigid, and many other names.

Priestess speaks:

I, who am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars and the mysteries of the waters,
I call upon your soul to arise and come unto Me.
For I am the soul of nature that gives life to the universe.
From Me all things proceed and unto Me they must return.
Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices,
for behold – all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.

Bard speaks:

Hear the words of the All Father who is called Osiris, and Woden, and Lugh, and other names beyond counting.

Priest speaks:

I am the glory of the Sun and the enigma of the stars.
I am the ferocity of the storm and the rainbow of Hope
when the storm has passed.
I am the challenger and the challenged.
I am the seed and the harvest and the life that calls the seed to rise again.
Let My worship be in hands that protect and heal and
minds that cherish the Mysteries.

Priestess speaks:

Let there be beauty and strength, peace and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.
And you who seek to know Me, know that your seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the mystery:
for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself,
you will never find it without.
For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and
I am that which is attained at the end of desire.

Priest speaks:

Let there be love and truth, courage and discernment, delight and connection, joy and devotion within you.
And you who seek to know Me, seek My Face in the helpers
in times of challenge and in your neighbors in need.
Offer your hands and voice to Me and do My work in the world.
For behold, I have been with you from the Beginning, and
I have carried you through the fire and storm.

The Working

Bard speaks:

Here between the worlds, we stand within the circle
on a grassy plain at twilight, beneath an ancient Living Tree.
On the far side of the circle we see a tall Standing Stone.
To our left, beside a quiet spring, we see a golden Cup, and
To our right, amid the surrounding trees, we see a great Sword.
[guides breathing and relaxation in this safe place]
Relax a moment in this quiet spot to enjoy the breeze – and a poem

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o’er me
That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.

For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life’s endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the nomads,
And as silently steal away.

The Day is Done By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

And our adventure awaits. Come with me to the north.
Just to the right of the standing stone, a path leads into a pine forest,

[Bard leads all following the path downward, scent of pine needles crunching underfoot.

Listen …hear the night noises of the woods … crickets … distant tree frogs … whippoorwill — loon —

follow closely – evergreen trees, still richly endowed with needles, shadows the sparse twilight —

dampness in the air —

We come to a stream flowing from our right.

The trail bears to the left and follows it down,

the rushing water becomes louder

the stream curves sharply to the right and our path narrows between stream on right and a steep bank on left.

Pines give way to oaks and maples as our path veers away from the stream

more gentle descent than the stream, yet still meandering .

Acorns on the path underfoot among fallen leaves in great variety of color and shape.

The forest is less dense here and we can see the first stars peeking through.

The last of the twilight shows us our way.

Until we come out of the woods to a clearing on level ground.]

Before us are the ruins of an ancient temple, and we see light glowing through the open gates.

Looking down, we find we are standing in the forecourt to the temple

where we are offered a welcome place to sit,

a basin of water and towels to refresh ourselves after our journey.

cold water to drink.

Soft slippers to replace our travelers’ footgear.

Here we lay aside any burdens we have carried this far, rest them beside our shoes, and turn eagerly toward the light.

The Presence

At the gates of the temple, we are welcomed by our Host and Hostess into the great Hall of Celebration.

Though it seems the gathered company is large, the Hall is quiet, and guests are scattered. A scented mist swirls and softens the light.

When you have made yourself comfortable, you notice the Lady moving among the guests. She brings you a chalice, filled with a refreshing beverage that you have not tasted for many years, that brings happy memories to mind.

The Lord comes to you bearing a basket of fresh bread that is unlike any you remember tasting before – rich, moist, satisfying – and the piece in your hand seems enough for a meal in itself.

There is a table near at hand with a plate for the bread and place for the cup, so you can nibble and sip as you will.

The mists throughout the hall have grown thick, and the company has multiplied.

Someone is coming toward you – the mists lighten, swirl, and reveal a familiar, beloved face.


This is your time with your beloved. You may want to share the bread or share the cup in hospitality.

To notice. To remember. To speak, if you will.


As the mists swirl and grow thick once more, your Beloved may seem distracted by a call beyond your hearing. You may notice sounds of restlessness around you as others make their farewells.


As our host and hostess see our beloved on their way, we find each other and visit in friendship.

The Lord and Lady return to join us – to share – to ask – to remember.

Share, if you will, or not, as you choose.

Bard brings the group together when it is time to leave.

The Return

Bard recalls everyone to the shoes we left outside, then uphill to the Sacred Grove and then to normal wakefulness, amid the Tree, the Sword, the Cup, and the Standing Stones.

The Closing

Thanking the Lord and Lady

Priest thanks Lady

Priestess thanks Lord.

Thanking the Guardians

North speaks:

Guardian of the Standing Stones,
We thank you for your help and presence in our rite.
Hail and Farewell.

East speaks:

Guardian of the Sword,
We thank you for your help and presence in our rite.
Hail and Farewell.

South speaks:

Guardian of the Tree,
We thank you for your help and presence in our rite.
Hail and Farewell.

West speaks:

Guardian of the Cup,
We thank you for your help and presence in our rite.
Hail and Farewell.

Opening the Circle

Bard speaks:

The rite is ended, the circle is open.
May the blessing of the Lord and Lady be with us all.
So mote it be.

“But they don’t WORK like the rest of us.”

Far too often, I have heard some version of this sentiment applied to people on the roughest fringes of the social spectrum: homeless, disabled, indigent. It seems to come with an implication that the people in question live off the hard work of “the rest of us”, absorbing handouts without contributing “their share” to the overall good. And the suggested consequences are addressed at correcting this perceived imbalance: make them work for their food stamps, for their government subsistence; curtail their options and test them to be sure they aren’t enjoying themselves. Or worse.

All because “they don’t work”.

Sacred Grove has observed and learned a lot in the past 2 decades, through our own work of helping individuals who have fallen through the governments’ safety nets (so to speak).

Did you know….

Someone who has no reliable source of income and no home, in order to stay alive, must devote most of their time and effort to:

  • finding a safe place to sleep for the coming night,
  • finding a way to secure their possessions against theft and vermin,
  • securing enough food and clean enough water to meet bodily needs,
  • finding a safe and sanitary place to relieve themselves,
  • complying with mandates of law enforcement authorities, and
  • evading attacks at the whim of predators?

Far too many jurisdictions are making the above actions as difficult as possible for the homeless, to the extent of:

  • replacing public benches and other places to sit with beds of spikes,
  • decreasing the availability of public restrooms,
  • destroying tents and possessions found on public land, or
  • arresting people who try to help.

Acquiring help through the safety net requires time and effort (more so without a vehicle or the ability to drive one) :

  • finding potential sources of help,
  • completing applications and attending interviews,
  • proving one’s need and inability to acquire and hold gainful employment, and
  • negotiating with all the forces endeavoring to restrict that help to the least level.

Yes, they work.

At this time, in the US, monthly help from the Social Security Administration for someone unable to work and without income is less than $800. Even with SNAP, that is barely enough to live on without securing additional benefits. Many states minimize the support they provide.

Now you know.

As Luck Would Have It …

After several days (and nights) working over the main pages of this site, catching up, I got around to adding a link to John Beckett’s blog, Under the Ancient Oaks, in the Reading Room. He always has something useful to me. I randomly picked an older post of his that I hadn’t read, and it went to the heart of my musings.

Shall I call it Divination via Beckett, a version of the old method of opening the Bible to a random page and taking to heart what you read there?

What is Seen Cannot Be Unseen was right on.

A sign I used to see with some regularity said “In God we trust – all others pay cash.” It was intended as a comment on the realities of cashflow in a small business, but in a completely different context it explains the worldview of mainstream Western society. That is, it’s nominally Christian but highly materialist.

Most people don’t think deeply about spiritual matters. They pay them lip service, particularly when they’re used to justify their preferred cultural and political positions. They pray when they’re in trouble, but not otherwise. The nature of the divine? What comes after death? Why we’re here? Nobody’s got time for that.

When it comes down to it, they really don’t believe in ghosts, or demons, or even Gods. When they experience something that points toward the existence and agency of spiritual persons, they look for “a rational explanation” (by which they mean one grounded in materialism) and if they can’t find one, they’ll make one up.

But sometimes, people experience something that defies a materialist explanation. They have an encounter with a God, or an other-than-divine spirit, or they see magic work in a way that can’t be denied.

All of a sudden they’re confronted with the fact that the world is a lot bigger and a lot stranger than they thought it was.

And we know what happens when most people are presented with evidence that their core beliefs and opinions are false. They deny the evidence and double down on what they’ve always assumed was true. They tell themselves it was a coincidence, a trick of the light, their imagination.

But deep down, they know what they saw, what they heard, what they experienced. They may not have the context to interpret it properly, but at some level they know it’s real.

And it scares the hell out of them.

John Beckett: “What is Seen Cannot be Unseen” 13 January 2022

In the Beginning . . . Something Changed

The Creation has fascinated me since childhood, growing up with a mainline midwestern Protestant Sunday School education and a closet agnostic physicist/engineer father. Our dinnertable discussions in the 1950s and 1960s ranged to infinity and back, to the edges of the Universe and back, and to what we could know. To me, it all has to make sense together or something is amiss. The Creation – biblical and astrophysical – is where it comes together.

I didn’t have the vocabulary for it, then, but now I do. Mixing an omnipotent deity with the discipline of scientific inquiry opens a door to chaos – which has its value in the intensity of discussion that ensues. And there are lessons to be gleaned, even when disputants slam the door and walk/run away.

Our view of the sky in any direction is, in this picture from right to left, straight down the middle

He said, “This Big Bang thing is rubbish. You can’t get something from nothing.

Dad wouldn’t have let me get away with an assertion of “can’t” nor of “impossible”, which may be one reason an assertion like this from a friend might keep me awake at night. Sigh.

So, what do we know and what can we know about the Beginning of the Universe?

Between Steven Weinberg’s The First Three Minutes (1979), which fascinated me then, and the vast trove of information now available online, I have tried to bring myself up to date and distill the essence into simple concepts.

Because no one was present in the Beginning to observe and record, we rely on physical observations we can make today repeatedly to construct a model describing what appears to have happened. We then challenge that model with the observations we have made. We continue coming up with new observations, tweaking the model, and challenging it again – until some unsought observation surprises us and we revise or scrap the model and apply all the old challenges again. The current iteration is called the Standard Model in particle physics.

The most recent calculated age of the Universe is about 13.8 billion (1.38 x 1010) Earth years. At that point, something changed in the conditions at hand, and changes continue today. We call that point “the Beginning“.

We don’t know exactly what the conditions were prior to the change – that is, what changed? If nothing was present, then some further step is necessary to provide the Something that changed at the Beginning.

On one hand, the Universe’s origin was incomprehensibly small, on dimensions much tinier than the smallest known subatomic particles, and it was completely transformed over an immeasurably brief period, much shorter than any observable time scale. On the other, the densities and temperatures were extraordinarily large, far exceeding anything existing in the present-day Universe.

Center for Astrophysics (Harvard & Smithsonian) Accessed 11 September 2023

Whatever was present responded to the change by disintegrating into fragments exploding in all directions, thus allowing the temperature to fall and space to be filled with particles carrying matter and energy moving away from its center. The cloud of fragments was so dense that particles collided and interacted with each other, changing characteristics and direction, and moving along to collide again.

As a visual approximation, Prince Rupert’s Drop could stand in for the primordial Something, in which case snipping its tail would be the change — filmed at 100,000 frames per second: Mythbusters and Prince Rupert’s Drop video

Those earliest particles included photons, electrons, neutrinos, and quarks, among others. Together they carried all the mass, energy, charge, spin, and force for interaction that make up the Universe today – the jury is still out on what carries the force of gravity, though of course it’s there.

It could be said that process of expanding, encountering, changing, and moving along continues today. The Universe is much larger now; the temperatures and densities are much lower; and gravity slows the speed of expansion by drawing particles together.

The Big Bang usually refers to the disintegration in all directions of that which changed. Often the literature speaks of it as involving the bigger pieces, the composite particles that resulted from encounters among elementary particles, and even atoms and molecules resulting from more complex encounters. Some articles refer to it as Inflation or Cosmic Inflation.

In a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second, the Universe grew by a factor of 1026, comparable to a single bacterium expanding to the size of the Milky Way.


Whatever it was called, by 10-33 seconds after the Beginning, the explosive expansion was complete and the Universe contained a mixture of elementary particles, composite particles, protons and neutrons composed of 3 quarks each, and some atomic nuclei composed of protons and neutrons. The temperature had fallen with the expansion, but it was still too hot and crowded for electrons to stay with any atomic nuclei they encountered.

The more I learn about All That Is and about all we have learned about how it came to be, the less need I see for an external omnipotent Power to do anything more than provide the primordial something and, maybe, to give it a push to start. All that is here, now — the Gods that are real, personal, and important to us — have been with us from the Beginning.

Belated Imbolc Greetings

Imbolc is the time of year we evaluate how we have held up to our dedications and commitments to ourselves and each other. Sometimes those evaluations keep us so busy we forget to post. Or we get tied up trying to figure out how to work the website in its new environment.

In any case, may you be at home in this new year and your refreshed dedication to that which is real, personal, and important in your life.

I find much to inspire me in John Beckett’s posts in his blog Under the Ancient Oaks on Patheos. This particular posting of old postings brought several good ones together, and I commend them to your attention. With thanks to John.

Casting the Circle/Creation Myth

A lesson and ritual for a group of newcomers (specifically incarcerated men) which was developed originally to satisfy an assignment in Survey of Chaplaincy, a course presented by Patrick McCollum at Cherry Hill Seminary in 2005.  The Creation myth and the attributes of the directions are adapted from McCollum’s book Courting the Lady.


Standing in the center of the circle of newcomers, beside altar with wand in hand:


Nothingness, piled upon Nothingness, gathered in the center which is also the whole of everything, which is Nothingness.

The Mother formed Herself from the Nothingness. She looked around. (look around, ending up facing East)

She was Alone – All One. In Her loneliness She screamed.

Lazra meck, Her scream, the light of darkness, went away from Her (walking toward the East, wand extended and searching)

Until it realized it was separate from Her and moving away from the only Other that there was. (stop moving)

Here – this place of realization, this enlightenment, this first place, we will call East. Here we celebrate illumination, light, the element of Fire.

Here lazra meck began to seek the path back to the Mother. (begin walking toward South, tracing the circle with the wand)

bringing the illumination, the fire – in a shining arc –(stopping at South)

until the light takes on form and substance, and becomes solid. Here, this place of solidity, we will call South. Here we celebrate form and substance, matter, the element of earth.

Again lazra meck continued seeking the path to the Mother (begin walking toward West, tracing the circle with the wand)

heavy now with substance and illumination, yet incomplete (stopping at West)

until it found itself churned in the cauldron of creation, the womb of the Mother, and coming to birth in the waters of life. Here, this place of birth, of life, we will call West. Here we celebrate Life and the element of water.

Alive now, lazra meck continued seeking the path to the Mother (begin walking toward North)

living substance, illuminated, yet incomplete (stopping at North)

until it found the Mother’s gift of spirit, of soul, the anima, and became a complete and independent being, alive, aware, and determined. Here, this place of inspiration, we will call North. Here we celebrate Spirit and the element of air.

Complete and independent, lazra meck still longed to rejoin the Mother (begin walking toward the East)

and chose to continue the search (stopping at East and turning toward the center)

until lazra meck recognized a place it had been before and from there (walking inward, embracing wand)

retraced its path and reunited with the Mother.

addressing newcomers

In our circle, in our sacred space, this is the center of the Universe. Very small actions here can lead to major changes in the outside world. We take particular care with what we say and do here – one way of thinking of it is that what we do comes back to us, three times over, but not necessarily in the ways we predict it will. (One good reason for a Witch not to turn someone into a frog)

We will learn more ways to make magic, to do it effectively, but for the first try, we’ll start with the basics. The first step is Intention. What do you want to do, and why?

Here in sacred space today, each of you will have the opportunity to do one small bit of personal magic, with the rest of us helping. Think about it for a minute. What would you like to change in your life – something that could happen in the next week or so? If what you want is something big – I hear what you’re thinking, and remember, we’re starting small here – maybe break it down a little and pick a manageable piece. State your intention or request to yourself. Look it over to make sure it’s not going to hurt anyone else or yourself. See if it’s something you can ask the Mother for.

When you’re all ready, I’ll ask you to come up one at a time to the altar. While the man at the altar states his intention – or makes it a prayer to the Mother – the rest of us will focus our attention on supporting his magic. At the altar, state your intention or request quietly. The rest of us really don’t need to hear what it is. We will trust you that what you are asking is intended without harm, and we will focus our intention on your request.

We’ll start with the East and move around the circle the same direction we cast it.

(when all have finished)

The focus and intention of a community is stronger than that of any individual. By all working together, by supporting each other, we can each have more success in our personal endeavors than we could separately. Even when we don’t know what the other guy’s needs are, just by focusing our intention on supporting him we can make a difference.

Awakening in a new Home

Sacred Grove Community Circle (SWC) has moved this blog and library from hosting at to hosting at It’s time for housecleaning and redecorating. Watch this space!

Cool Yule and Blessings of Peace,
Khalila RedBird

Meaning and Understanding

At the heart of our understanding of All That Is — the Universe around us, the Gods, the daily news — is cognition. How we think. What our minds do with what our senses offer as input and what we have already processed and stored, whether we remember it or not. And it turns out that humankind developed our current capabilities in cognition over eons — indeed, we wouldn’t expect it to be any other way, but, of course, we take it for granted.

The video below is the first in a series by Prof. John Vervaeke, of the University of Toronto Psychology Department and Cognitive Science Program, laying out the details of our human cognitive development against the history of human development.

And this brought to my mind the course in Pagan Apologetics I took at Cherry Hill Seminary, taught by Dr. David Oringderff of Sacred Well Congregation, the premise of which was that Paganism is the indigenous religion of humankind.

There is a lot of content in this video, delivered in straight lecture style in front of an almost-useless whiteboard. Conveniently, YouTube lists the books Vervaeke mentions:

  • Michael Anderson – After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain
  • Barry Boyce (Editor) – The Mindfulness Revolution: Leading Psychologists, Scientists, Artists, and Meditation Teachers on the Power of Mindfulness in Daily Life
  • Andy Clark – Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence
  • Michel Ferrari and Nic Weststrate (Editors) – The Scientific Study of Personal Wisdom: From Contemplative Traditions to Neuroscience
  • Harry Frankfurt – On Bullsh*t
  • David Lewis-Williams – The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art
  • L. A. Paul – Transformative Experience
  • Massimo Pigliucci – How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life
  • Matt Rossano – Supernatural Selection: How Religion Evolved
  • Daniel Siegel – Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation
  • Steve Taylor – Waking From Sleep: Why Awakening Experiences Occur and How to Make Them Permanent
  • John Vervaeke, Christopher Mastropietro, and Filip Miscevic – Zombies in Western Culture: A Twenty-First Century Crisis
  • Michael Winkelman – Shamanism: A Biopsychosocial Paradigm of Consciousness and Healing
  • Susan Wolf – Meaning in Life and Why It Matters

Just as we did in Pagan Apologetics, Vervaeke looks back to our primitive human ancestors, the physical traces they left, and the differences between those who came before and those who came after. He focuses in this episode on the transition from the middle- to the upper- paleolithic, about 45,000 years ago, as the Neanderthal population faded out and the human population expanded out of Africa.

What I want to do is point to a time when many people think our humanity, the kind of people we are now, came into form. Not fully like the way it is now, because of course there’s been lots of historical and cultural processes, but the kind of humanity that we would recognize as “us” and how much this was bound up with meaning making in the way that I’ve been talking about.

Episode 1

This episode is just under one hour, and it moves quickly. The second half gets into the details of the upper paleolithic transition, focusing on the work of the shaman, on ritual, and on the various ways of knowing. It is better experienced than read, but the transcripts are available.

Yule 2020

Continuing our latest Tradition, Sacred Grove will gather in cyberspace for Yule this Turning of the Wheel. On Sunday, December 20, at 8 pm EST, please join us for ritual on ZOOM. The link to join is below.

We will seal the gathering (no one further will be admitted) at 8:15 pm.

Jaime Gironés, writing at The Wild Hunt, offers The Longest and Darkest Night for our reflection.

Without regard to the name of the celebration or the phase of my life, the celebration has always had the same main meaning to me: it has always represented hope. After the darkness of the longest night of the year, the sun is reborn – and with this rebirth, light is rekindled in our hearts and spirits. After this very difficult year, I think hope is what we need the most.

Jaime Gironés

John Beckett is presenting Under the Ancient Oaks Online Winter Solstice Ritual: December 18 at 8 pm CST via YouTube, as well.

This is Pagans, polytheists, and others continuing our sacred traditions under difficult circumstances. This is using all the resources at our disposal to maintain our commitments to our Gods, ancestors, and other spiritual allies. This is us, doing what must be done.

John Beckett

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Cherry Hill Seminary – Samhain

Cherry Hill Seminary published the Samhain edition of its newletter highlighting spring course offerings and regular online events.

Cherry Hill Seminary empowers spiritual leadership, scholarship, and ethics through theological and pastoral education to nurture interfaith engagement in a diverse society.  For more information, visit , or click here to email us.

Spiritual Potluck is a weekly gathering for a virtual hour of reflection, ritual and sharing, email for link to attend.