Archive for October, 2012

Holy Daze: Samhain (October 31st, 2012) – Wiccan/Neopagan

October 31st, 2012 No comments

Neopagans honoring the dead as part of a Samhain ritual

For many, October 31st marks Halloween, a day for dressing up in scary (and not-so-scary) costumes and going door-to-door trick or treating.  For others though, this day is the most sacred day of the year.

Wiccans and Neopagans celebrate this day as the New Year and end of the harvest.  It is a day when the veil between the corporeal world and spirit world is believed to be the thinnest.  Many Wiccans honour or attempt to contact deceased love ones.  It is a time of remembrance, change, and positive blessings for the future.  The memorial elements of this sacred day share much with the Christian observances known as All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day.  For some Wiccans, it is customary to dress in a costume reflecting what they hope to achieve or become in the New Year.  Others may engage in a tradition known as the Silent Supper.

The Silent Supper (or Dumb Supper, less popularly used) tradition entails the preparation of special meal, whereby those who have crossed over in the last year (and indeed other loved ones long since passed) are honoured.  Either one place will be set for all loved ones, or a setting for each person that has passed will be set at the table.  The room is often purified through smudging or other ritual acts.  Guests to the silent supper will proceed with their meal in complete silence as a token of honouring their loved ones.  Following, notes to those who have crossed over may be placed under the place setting of the deceased.  Later, these notes may be burned in a cauldron as part of the closing of the ritual observance.

There are other ritual ancestral observances that some Wiccans engage in, such as setting up an altar honouring the ancestors that may include grave rubbings of the deceased’s headstone and the baking of soul cakes traditionally made as gifts for the spirits of those who have crossed over.

The first video below is an overview of this sacred holiday, while the second is a glimpse at one Wiccan’s family ancestral altar.

Blessed Be!

M. xo

Samhain / Halloween:

Wiccan Altar For Samhain:

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


Categories: Religion Tags: , ,

NRMs: Jediism

October 23rd, 2012 No comments

Temple of the Jedi Order symbol

I’ve wanted to write about this new religion for a while now.  Mostly because it was inspired by one of the greatest movie franchises in the history of cinema, but also because I keep company with various geeks, freaks, and assorted fanboys/girls who I thought would appreciate this post.  That being said, let’s chat about Jediism.

Now before you start snickering, I’d like to point out that on January 12th, 2009 the Canadian government officially recognized Jediism as a religion.  This past March, the United States followed suit and recognized Jediism as a nonprofit religious organization.  This may have been the result of a grassroots movement in 2001 to encourage people to write down Jedi as their religious affiliation on national censuses.  The movement was so successful that 21,000 Canadians indicated their religion as Jedi.  In other countries, the numbers were much more impressive.  For instance, in 2001 New Zealand had the highest per capita population of reported Jedi followers, even eclipsing those who identified with two major world religions – Buddhism and Hinduism.

Certainly, the movement has had its critics – particularly those from the irreligious persuasion who believe that their own numbers are being under-recorded due to non-religious folks indicating Jedi as a joke or novel answer to the question.  Make no mistake – practitioners of this religion are serious about their faith.

Jediism, like many other religions, has different variations between groups.  Most groups draw inspiration from the Lucas films, such as the belief in the Force and possibility of interaction with the Force.  The manifestation of this belief appears to take on different contexts.   Perhaps most interesting about this NRM is the drawing from a wide variety of religious beliefs.

If you’re interested in learning more about Jediism, there are several sites you can visit.

The Temple of The Jedi Order purports to be the first international church of Jediism.  Quoting from their website, “We are real Jedi.  We believe in Peace, Justice, Love, Learning and using our abilities for Good. We are not fictional Jedi, nor are we role playing. We live our lives according to the principles of Jediism and work together as a community to both cultivate and celebrate.”

The Order of the Jedi, is a Canadian-based organization; however it considers itself a worldwide Order.  A description of a Jedi taken from their Web site, “[…] is someone who believes in an energy that surrounds, binds, penetrates, and encompasses all living things. A Jedi believes in the greater good, and always tries to follow the light or positive energy. Jedi do not discriminate, all are welcome.”

As I stated previously, Jediism isn’t without its critics.  Members have also been subject to some highly publicized religious discrimination.  In the video posted below, a news station provides coverage of a Jedi follower who was asked to remove his hood at a job center.  He was subsequently escorted from the premises when he refused to comply.  Self-proclaimed Jediism founder, Daniel Jones is also interviewed in this segment.

May the Force be with you…

M. xo

Jedi follower discriminated against & Jediism Founder interviewed:

Image Source: Temple of the Jedi Order


The Puck Stops Here

October 13th, 2012 No comments

If you perch here regularly then you’ll know that I don’t just squawk and chirp about religion.  This is one of those times when something else has gotten my feathers in a ruffle.  Let’s address the 2012 NHL Lockout (isn’t it sad that we’ve even resorted to dating the lockout?).  Personally, I just find it ridiculous that millionaires are bickering about money.  I can’t really say any more than that.  It’s just ridiculous.  Of course, I know I’m simplifying things tremendously, but it’s just so exasperating, and I kind of feel like we’ve been here and done this before.

Besides, I couldn’t express myself any better than the frustrated hockey fans you’ll find in the videos below.  They’ve come up with some creative messages for the players and the owners.  Hopefully, they’ll be an end to the lockout soon.  Especially for my father’s sake – you know something just isn’t right in your world when your hockey-loving father is substituting the missed games on the ice with episodes of Survivor.  Please bring back the game before the merge; otherwise my Dad might be sucked irreversibly into the Burnett vortex.

M. xo

Shut the Puck Up (NHL Lockout Song)

The Lockout Song

The Lockout Song – (No More Merch)

The Official Song of the NHL Lockout

NHL – ‘Together We Can’ (HD)



Categories: Society and Culture Tags: ,

Holy Daze: Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4th, 2012) – Catholic Christian

October 3rd, 2012 No comments

Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Coyoacan, Federal District, Mexico

St. Francis of Assisi was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher born in the 12th century.  Despite being born into wealth, he dedicated his life to living in poverty and prayer.   He was known to wander and minister to lepers.  St. Francis was also known for his love of animals.  He is often depicted surrounded by birds and other animals.  Today, he is considered the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment.  To commemorate this holy day, many churches offer blessings to pets.  Below you’ll find a short video about this popular saint.  In the second short video, you’ll see a large gathering of people and their pets lining up to receive blessings.

M. xo

Saint Francis of Assisi

Church day for pets

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Categories: Religion Tags: , ,

Holy Daze: Sukkot (September 30th, 2012 – October 7th, 2012) – Judaism

October 1st, 2012 No comments

Etrog, silver etrog box and lulav, used on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot

Sukkot is an annual week-long harvest festival that follows the solemn holiday of Yom Kippur.  It is sometimes referred to as the Feast of Booths.  Historically, it commemorates the years that the Israelites wandered the desert following the revelation at Mount Sinai.  Sukkahs, or huts, are traditionally built during this holiday to represent the temporary shelters the Israelites used.  These huts are also believed to represent pre-biblical times when ancient farmers would construct these during harvest to protect their crops.

Typical rituals during Sukkot include the eating of meals in the sukkah, and for some, sleeping in the sukkah.  Construction of the sukkah is very specific so as to allow for certain elements, such as a view of the stars.  Another, traditional observance is called the Taking of the Four Kinds.  A blessing is recited, while holding and shaking four specific species of plants consisting of palm, myrtle, willow (lulav) and citron (etrog).

For more in-depth information, check out the videos below.  My Jewish Learning presents two fun and informative videos.  The first video, entitled Sukkah City, will inform you in a hip, urban style on the construction and nature of a sukkah.  The second video follows Heshy Fried aka Frum Satire around Hasidic Brooklyn as he tries to find out what makes for the perfect etrog (and he also reveals the astonishing price paid for these sacred fruits).  Finally, Maoz Israel presents a more serious look at the sacred meaning behind this important Jewish holiday.

M. xo

What is a Sukkah?

Buying a Lulav and Etrog for Sukkot

Sukkot in Israel

Image Source: Wikimedia


Categories: Religion Tags: , ,