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Friday, November 29, 2013

Old Homesteading Hippie Pagan Artist Witch Gives Thanks

Lots of folks, it seems, have political issues with Thanksgiving. They are as entitled to their opinions as anyone -- and I am not saying that the history we were taught is valid, nor putting a stamp of approval on things done in the past that we would not do -- or at least not condone -- if then were now and we were those figures-made-myth from history.

Instead, I want to talk about thanks giving -- an attitude of thankfulness -- which we OUGHT to have every day of every year; lacking that, having it brought to our attention once a year is a good thing.

I was listening to the Maine Calling program on MPBN while driving home to work this week, and the subject of the discussion was thankfulness. Unfortunately we are having difficulty accessing some web sites from home these days, and MPBN is one of them, so I cannot get the names of the guests in the discussion, nor link to the podcast. I didn't get to hear the entire program either, but what I got from the bit I did hear was that cultivating an attitude of gratitude affects us in many positive ways. One might expect some bleed-over into other aspects of our personality, such as becoming more accepting or positive, which it does. But, the discussion asserted that even a couple of weeks of taking note of one's blessings with a thankful heart can begin to mitigate depression, as well as having a positive effect on our physical bodies, as well; the lowering of blood pressure and positive changes in the immune system were mentioned specifically. Unnamed clinical studies were sited for these assertions.

The moderator asked a question not commonly addressed (in my experience anyway) in discussions such as these: While it is easy and expected for those with Christian and other religious affiliations to give thanks, and indeed the American traditional Thanksgiving holiday tends to be viewed as a religious occasion with thanks being given to the Christian God, what of those who do not follow a religion? Is it possible to have an attitude of gratitude without giving thanks to a deity?

The panelists were unanimous in their positive response. One can, indeed, be thankful and even GIVE thanks without pointing it in a particular direction and the benefit will be the same.  The pointed out that some traditions offer thanks to the Elements, to the Directions and to the spirits of creatures, ancestors, objects.

As a pagan, and a witch, I often do this, as well as offering thanks to my Gods and Goddesses and to the Universe At Large. In fact, when my kids were young, I encouraged being thankful, at our Thanksgiving meal, with a ritual which came to be called "the Thankful Game." It's not a game in the
The "Thanksgiving Game" family tradition lives on at gatherings
of my children's' families.
sense of baseball or soccer, but that is what the kids called it. In a nod to the traditional historical tales of the pilgrims lean fare, and the lean times that our pioneer ancestors had to survive, I told the (possibly apocryphal) story of the pilgrims daily ration of 5 grains of corn . I encouraged each of the kids to name something for which they were thankful, and as each thanks was given, the child was given a piece of candy corn. I would write down each thanks as it was given, and after the first year, read the previous year's list at the end of the session.

So, candy corn at hand, I join with my family from afar with my list: I am thankful for:
my growing family: 5 wonderful daughters, and 5 equally wonderful sons-in-law and their collection of kids which comprises 15 grandchildren and one new great-grand baby
my partner of many years, K
our "4 acres and a tractor" and the food it allows us to produce
my health
a dry and reasonably warm home
my part time job in town and the ability to commute there without hassle
my part time jobs on the farm - Vision IPD (graphic design) and Dutch Hex Sign (blessings,  invocations and painted prayers for home and barn)
impending retirement from town job
good co-workers
the good folk far and wide who see, appreciate and buy my art
the experiences I have had though life that give me a leg up on "doing more with less"
the ability to appreciate the "simple things of life"
being able to live in Maine -- in the Northlands where I truly belong
a pantry full of home grown, home canned veggies
a freezer mostly full of home grown fowl, pork, eggs and more veggies
the ability to access the electronic web easily and without restrictions

Well, my stomach is growling, so I guess it's time to go partake of some of that wonderful home grown turkey, potatoes, veggies and local cranberries and to give thanks for it for the second time around! I guess I should add being thankful for left overs since they mean I don't have to cook after having to get up at 2 for my in town job. And, I will add that I am thankful for this being the last "black Friday" that I will ever have to deal with!

May your lives also be blessed, as you look around you and make note of your blessings. Every one of us has many they can count. Remember that where ever you are, whatever your situation, "it beats freezing and starving in the cold and dark!" Be well!

So be it.