ritual

ritual

November 23, 2011

Jenny Ward McDonald at Her Family Headstone

Last fall the idea to visit the family graveyard came to mind for the first time in ages. Día de Los Muertos seemed like the perfect excuse to make the journey. I allowed life and distance to keep me away, however, and I never went.

I am not Latina, but I did develop a strong appreciation for Mexican culture while studying midwifery on the Texas/Mexico border. When I moved home to Georgia, I kept a piece of Mexico in my heart. Since the first idea to celebrate my ancestors Mexican-style entered my mind last year, the urge had only grown stronger. So as November approached this year, I resolved to do it. I invited my two sisters. One said she’d bake a casserole and we planned to picnic at the cemetery. On October 31st, they both cancelled on me. I was determined, however, and went anyway.

October 31, 2011

On Samhain, the veil between the worlds separating the living from the dead grows thin and permeable. Guest contributor Peg Aloi explains Hallowe'en and reflects on its popular hold on our contemporary culture.

October 28, 2011

When we ban Halloween, do we deny our children the opportunity to name and face their fears, a time to face "the dark"? A guest post from Caroline Oakes.

October 11, 2011

Every day is the anniversary of something. The date on the calendar ripples with other dates, other stories.

October 03, 2011

Indian folk dancingAn Indian folk dancer poses with her troupe. (photo: Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images)

Hindus in India and around the world are in the midst of celebrating Navratri, the colorful and light-laden, nine-day festival also known as Durga Puja. Dedicated to Durga, Hindus celebrate the mother goddess’ defeat of the demon Mahishasura — the triumph of good over evil.

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September 17, 2011

For one woman with MS, a tree reminds her to make t'shuva — to turn inward, to return to goodness and godliness in preparation for the High Holy Days. A guest reflection for all to ponder.

September 15, 2011

Callejon de Hamel

In Cuban Santeria (also known as La Regla Ocha and La Regla Lucumi), orishas are revered deities who rule over different earthly elements. They are called through dance and drum rituals to interact with humans.

Oshun, for example, is an orisha associated with fresh water. She represents female sensuality and beauty. Oshun’s movement is fluid and coquettish, which is what you’d expect from a goddess of beauty. Her signature color is yellow and she typically carries a fan with her, which she sometimes wields as a weapon. When Oshun laughs, she’s preparing to punish someone. It’s only when she cries that she’s truly happy.

September 14, 2011

During the month before the High Holy Days, it's Jewish tradition to read Psalm 27, writes our guest contributor. She reflects on turning inward and the struggle of preparing for quiet reflection.

September 12, 2011

Grandma May Ng with her grandson PenuelGrandma May Ng holds her great-grandson Penuel. (photo: Melody Ng)

I don’t know that I have ever paid much attention to the

legend behind the Moon Festival, but I sure love moon cakes. I haven’t bought them in years, because my grandmother always sends me a box of my favorite — lotus seed paste (a thousand times yummier than the usual red bean!) with one egg yolk per cake — from a good bakery in Los Angeles.

Last September, she gave me my box in person because I was in LA for my cousin’s wedding and spent a few days with her. I brought the moon cakes back to Minnesota, ate one right away, and gobbled up the second during the Moon Festival. The other two are still in my refrigerator. I haven’t been able to eat them.

September 12, 2011

Traditional Moon CakeThe egg yolk inside the moon cake evokes the full harvest moon. (photo: Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images)

For many Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese, the moon festival or mid-autumn harvest festival falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. That is, today, September 12th, 2011.

August 20, 2011

Lake Nokomis

This summer, I headed to Minneapolis on a research trip, glad to be headed north after two years’ absence. I rented a tiny house on the city’s south side, and hauled books and papers and photocopies with me — the tools of my trade in glorious abundance.

And then the state government shut down. Thousands of Minnesotans were thrown out of their jobs, and services of every imaginable kind ground to a halt. I was not someone whose income suffered from the shutdown, only someone who could not access the state’s historic sites, museums, or archives. My ability to do my job was, in a tangled way, connected to my ability to do those things, but I did not face hardship, only a struggle to let go of plans and goals that I had convinced myself I must achieve.

August 13, 2011

Tying rakhi around a brother's wristA woman ties a rakhi, a sacred thread, around her brother’s wrist for a Raksha Bandhan festival in Bangalore, India. (photo: Dibyanshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images)

August 01, 2011

We'd welcome any contributions that could help us understand the ceremony and ritual of the festivities better!

July 27, 2011

Happy Ramadan(photo: Mohammad Khedmati/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Ramadan this year starts Monday, August 1st. Every year it comes 11 days earlier because Muslims follow a lunar calendar. A lunar year is only 355 days long. So my Ramadan comes sometimes in super freezing Iowa winters and sometimes in hyper sizzling hot and humid summers.

When Ramadan comes in winter. It is easy to fast. Sunrise to sunset is a very short day. When it comes in summer, like this year, oh God helps us. Dawn is about 4:30 a.m. and sundown in Cedar Rapids is about 8:30 p.m. A sixteen-hour fasting day.

July 02, 2011

When I moved to Jerusalem two years ago, I thought for sure that I would continue my yoga practice, especially after having yoga present in my life in so many ways for so many years. And I thought that I would even find others in this holy city to practice with. A sangha, a space, a teacher.

April 25, 2011

Easter is overThe end of Easter in Prague, Czech Republic. (photo: Leonardo Sagnotti/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)

In the Czech Republic, a tradition of spanking or whipping women is carried out on Easter Monday. On Easter Monday morning, it is customary for girls and women to stay at home while the boys and men, usually dressed in nicer clothing and sometimes even in kroj — traditional costume — go door to door of female relatives and/or friends, bringing greetings, singing Easter carols, demanding the right to spank the women with a special handmade whip called a pomlázka and/or splash them with cold water or perfume for good luck and fertility, and demanding “treats” (eggs, chocolate, liquor, or a peck on the cheek) as their reward.

April 24, 2011

Boys in silenceA sign hangs on the wall of a Taizé community in Burgundy, France. (photo: forteller/Flickr, cc by-nc-sa 2.0)

It is Easter week. This week, we remember the events from Thursday’s meal to Friday’s torture to Saturday’s silence and Sunday’s mystery.

Years ago, 13 years ago in fact, I fell apart. I was 22 and I had already been sick for a year. It had started with a bad flu that had never gone away. After 12 months, I was bewildered and dizzy and achy, confused with a fatigue and an illness that would take a further five years to diagnose and a total of nine years to recover from.

April 18, 2011

The religious symbolism of fasting is an act of gratitude for the life you have and the time when you can eat again.

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