Archive for December, 2015

Darkness, all is darkness!

2015/12/21

People today have little understanding of how terrifying the winter could be to our ancestors.  Especially for those who lived in northwestern Europe, where daylight only lasted a few hours in December.  As the days kept getting shorter, people began to fear that the darkness would consume the world.  This was a time when people believed that there were many gods and goddesses, and that these deities interfered in the daily affairs of humankind all the time.

The idea of the Sun leaving, and not returning, was completely plausible to early humans, as they encountered change all the time.  Rivers would change their course, terrible storms hit, earthquakes struck, game would not be where it was expected to be found, all kinds of things threatened these primitive folk.  So the return of the Sun after the Winter Solstice was not a given, was not thought of as something assured.  Celebrating before the fact was certain to upset some deity, so people were careful not to.  Only after it was certain that the Sun was returning did people begin the festivities, which could take several days to establish.

So they did not celebrate on the day of the solstice, which can fall anytime between December 21st and 23rd.  December 25th was the earliest day in every year that anyone could be sure that the Sun had stopped its descent into the South.  This was the time that the Yule began, the most ancient of holidays.  It was Yule Tide celebrations which the Christian church could not make people give up, so it was decided to honor the birth of their savior on December 25th.  By saying that people were celebrating the birth of Christ, the partying was made acceptable.

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Working Together

2015/12/17

When I have a task in front of me, I enjoy being able to work with other people to accomplish it.  Working with others helps me to stay on task, and to keep going when I feel like quitting.  Working together can even be fun, and there is something special about watching someone do a task that you were thinking needed to be done, but didn’t have the time at the moment to do it.

We can almost feel connected, sharing some telepathic link, when we are working together, because we can settle into roles which compliment each other, until work can be a dance,  moving in accord with what we are doing and what others are doing, so that we don’t get in other people’s way, and they step aside at just the right moment to avoid interfering with your work, without even looking at you.

That is a feeling of belonging, of being recognized, which is very special, very rewarding.  It is how we got here.

Sometimes, I think I am important

2015/12/13

Usually, I am considered a responsible person, who will get the job done, somehow.  Which is true, when I am working for someone else.  But when I am working for myself, doing things that will benefit me, I slack off, stay in bed, put it off.  Why is it so hard to do things for me?  Once a commitment gets me out of bed, I am hard to stop.  I can even get motivated to do things for myself, if I can avoid getting sucked into the Web.

All of my life, I have considered myself to be unworthy, second class, here to serve others.  I still have problems telling myself that I am worth the effort to get out of bed, that I have things to offer other people, that I am important.  Perhaps it is because I feel that if I am spending my energy on myself, it is not going to matter, because I will be gone someday.  Whereas, if I am spending energy helping somebody else, what I do could be remembered, cherished, passed on.  My community MAY survive, if everyone pitches in.  But I will not.  Beyond question, I will not.

Burn, Baby Burn

2015/12/11

There is little doubt that the Earth is getting warmer.  You can deny it if you wish, but the evidence is becoming irrefutable.  Most of the debate now centers on whether burning fossil fuels is causing the warming.  Regardless of the cause, adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere right now is like throwing gasoline on a fire.  The human race is currently spewing over 34 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.  Reducing that amount requires reducing the use of fossil fuels, as they are the largest source of carbon dioxide.

Coal-fired power generating plants are the largest single source of this greenhouse gas, as well as soot, sulfur dioxide, and mercury.  Many of these generating plants have no emissions controls, such as scrubbers to remove sulfur dioxide, or particulate absorption  devices.  Alternative sources of energy are becoming much cheaper, including natural gas, solar, and wind power.  It does not really matter what is causing the Earth to get warmer, what matters is whether we stop contributing to the warming.

Hope for Light

2015/12/11

Hopefully, the darkness will begin to abate soon, as the Sun begins its return to the Northern sky.  We have grown complacent, lulled by our scientific nature into believing that things will go on as before.  Our ancestors had no such assurance, and lived with change that was frequent and dramatic.  Weather had tremendous impact, and earthquakes, volcanoes, and floods all threatened primitive humans.  Nothing was taken for granted, especially something as important as the Sun stopping its descent into the darkness.

Thus came the celebration of the Winter Solstice, the Yule Tide, the beginning of a new cycle in Nature.  The Sun abandons its journey to the land of the Dead, and promises another Spring, even as the cold of Winter deepens across the land.  But people did not dare celebrate the day of the solstice, that was an affront, a tempting of Fate.  They waited until they could be sure that the Sun was returning.  Not for a few days can one see signs, and only if the weather is clear.  So the Yule did not really begin until almost January, with December 25th being the earliest day.  The Yule had nothing to do with presents, or feasting, it was a celebration of Light.

We are all worth something.

2015/12/09

Society today is struggling with increasing levels of homelessness, drug abuse, suicide, and early death.  Our methods are no longer working, if they ever actually worked before.  There is more than enough wealth in existence to provide a minimum of needs to everyone.  Enough food to eat, health care, and a place to sleep.  Counseling, therapy, training, the expenses of taking care of people can be measured in dollars, or in deaths from starvation, tuberculosis, and exposure.

We are all equal in the end, for no one has yet cheated death.  But treating each other as equals is difficult for many to do, because of beliefs, bias, or ignorance.  Assuring everyone the basic minimum needed for life does not mean that the welfare rolls are going to swell, because most people want more out of life than just a place to sleep and food to eat.  Giving everyone a chance, helping them to find their path, these are the qualities that we admire in others.

Cooperation and community have made it possible for humanity to make it this far.  Without both, we will not make it much further.  Everyone has value, every person deserves to be treated with dignity and fairness.  We need each other, because none of us will get out of this alive.

I’m so confused!

2015/12/06

Scootwhoman's Weblog

Here in the United States, we use a celebration of Death to kick of the celebration of Life.  What am I talking about?  Thanksgiving and the Christmas Shopping Season.  Although Thanksgiving is dedicated to the Pilgrams landing at Plymouth Rock, it is really a harvest celebration, just a little late in the year.  (I for one never believed that people ate outside at Thanksgiving ever! Especially in Massachuesetts.)  The roast beast, the trimmings, the goodies, the pies, the whole production is a celebration of the bounty of the land, and the sacrifice made so that Life can go on.  Everything on the table will be dead, and that is what the celebration is all about.  We give thanks to that which has died so that we can continue.

Unless you live in some place without electricity, you will probably notice that the sky glows at night a lot more than…

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Deep in the dark of Autumn

2015/12/06

We are in the last days of Autumn, the shortest days are only a couple of weeks away.  Night is taking over, and the God has traveled to the Underworld, to experience Death again, so that he may be renewed.  Now is not the time for revelry, we must wait until the Solstice has passed, and we have made sure that the Sun is returning.  We dare not affront the gods by celebrating something so dire, so impossible to survive,  as the Sun leaving us forever, casting us into darkness, where nothing will grow, and no hope can exist.  A vigil was kept until dawn, so that the place where the Sun rose could be carefully noted, and the Solstice verified.  But sometimes the weather was bad, and one could not be sure for a few days whether the Sun was indeed returning.  Taking things for granted was not widely done in the past.

Modern people don’t think about affronting the gods, they just party when they feel like it.  Right now, people are partying, yet the days are getting shorter, and colder.  Now is the time to appreciate the darkness, so that we can truly embrace the return of the Sun after the Solstice.  Many people feel like hibernating during this time, a survival trait deeply ingrained in our genes, a method to survive the winter without starving to death.  When candles were the only source of artificial light, staying awake after dark was a waste of time, unless there was something really important to do.  Enjoy the darkness, save the celebration for the end of December and early January, when we traditionally celebrated the Yule, the beginning of a new year.

Affirmation

2015/12/05

Over the years, I have sought counseling for depression several times, and I have done some reading on the subject.  In the last 10 or 15 years, I have heard a new term used in therapy; affirmation.  This refers to a process involving making a person feel like they are part of a group, that they are wanted and needed, that they have value.  Although I first heard the term ‘affirmative’ when I was a kid of 7 or 8, and was familiar with the word ‘affirm’, I had not heard affirmation used in a clinical setting until the early 2000’s.

The word used to refer solely to a legal statement which stated a person’s memories or intent were indeed true, or something like that.  Only when researchers realized that there is a psychological process which builds a persons self-esteem, through physical and emotional feedback.  To be told that we belong, that we are important, and that people value us has a tremendous impact, as do hugs.

Seek out affirmation, look at ways that you can affirm others, visualize people hugging, sitting together, walking holding hands.  Bring some good into the world, help overcome the hate we have for ourselves.

To love darkness

2015/12/04

We are in a time of darkness, which comes every year, during late November and early December. In a few weeks, we will be at the Winter Solstice, and after that the days will get longer. It used to be that people would wait until after the Solstice, beginning about the 25th, to celebrate the return of the Sun. To appreciate the light, we must love the darkness.