Merry Christmas~

I missed my Badurday post yesterday but here’s something I hope will make up for it. Happy Christmas!! And hurry down the chimney tonight, Santa baby!

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Badurday- December 24, 2011- Sexy Santa Edition

Don’t Look! My Family’s Gone Christmas Again!

I can’t believe tomorrow is already Christmas Eve. We’ve had some of the grandkids over and it’s been a blast.

One of the grandsons from Washington State flew in with his girlfriend. She’s expecting our first great-grandchild this summer, and it means so much that she came to see us while she could still travel. So we’ve been enjoying our time with her. She had a little trouble with preggers nausea, but after a quick trip to the clinic for a refill on her morning sickness meds we went on to dine on the good stuff. Shrimp, oysters, crabs, crawfish pies, snow crab legs, coleslaw and French fries. Our mama-to-be had a burger but snuck a few shrimp too!

Entertainment was up to its usual high standards, unintended as well as intended. Hubby and I were drinking our morning coffee when we spotted one of the boys in the edge of the woods. He had on hunting boots, camouflage shirt, hat, shooting glasses, and carried a compound bow in one hand and a range finder in the other.

And wrecked the whole professional hunter effect by wearing shorts. Red ones.  And my Lord, that boy has some white legs! We laughed so hard at the incongruity we had to lean on each other to stand up.

I’ll admit our bunch is food oriented. Growing teenage boys and all that. So I spend a large amount of time in the kitchen. Unfortunately that leaves the kids entertaining themselves. Almost burned the French toast one morning when hysterical laughter and loud rhythmic crinkling noises distracted me. I’m used to laughter and the kids running past while I’m busy. But the huff, crinkle  huff, crinkle I was hearing was something new. I frowned as it got louder and louder and closer and closer. I know my mouth fell open when a human-sized Christmas present bunny-hopped past the door in their wake, yelling bloody murder. The words were a little muffled by colorful layers of wrapping paper and multiple stick-on bows, but I think the gist of it was, “Dammit! Untape my ankles! It’s not funny any more! C’mon! At least unwrap my head so I can see!” Whoever it was huff, crinkled off into the distance, and I’m assuming he was cut loose because they all turned up to eat. I hope there aren’t any more gifts to wrap because I’m pretty sure there’s no paper–or tape– left after that stunt.

The general population of our family runs long on males. That means we have an assortment of hunting goods around here. Animal calls in particular. Duck calls, crow calls, squirrel, baby rabbit, dying rabbit, deer grunt, dove, turkey, elk . . . you name it, it’s hanging on a string somewhere in the house. I was woken early one morning to g-kids circling the bed doing their rendition of Christmas carols. Wish I’d been able to record it. There’s no way to effectively describe the sound of We Wish You a Merry Christmas being exuberantly honked, hooted, quacked, cawed, gobbled, cooed, grunted, bleated and bugled instead of sung. The closest I can come is it was like a warped woodland version of the barking dog Jingle Bells I hear on the radio. I may have been startled awake –okay, I nearly had a heart attack until I realized my room hadn’t shifted to a Twilight Zone zoo somewhere — but I wouldn’t trade a single squeal, squawk, caw or joyous blat of it. Memories like that are priceless. And make for great blackmail material!

I enjoy our times together with the kids. But I have to share them with the rest of the family; it’s only fair. We drove them all to Petal today to spend the next few days deer hunting. Wonder if I should have reminded them I’m food oriented too. And I sure wouldn’t object to a nice deer roast.

I always have fun sharing my family here. They keep life interesting for me! Hope they do for you, too.

May everyone have a very Merry Christmas! Keep the spirit, and good writing!

~Runere~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com   Friend her on Facebook at Runere McLain   Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Edits Are Fun, Yeah Right!

Hello everyone! So I just wrapped up edits on my upcoming release, Rawhide Angel. Right now the copy editor has it and copy editor willing I’ll be done with that book after a great read through. While I wait my wonderful critique partner, Rebecca Zanetti mentioned a romantic suspense book that I had started awhile back. I actually wrote around 16k on the book before seeing something shiny and forgetting about it :). Now I’m reading through it and well, I like it. I mean I like all of it except my bad guy.

Sometimes I see these series in my head and honestly believe that I can pull off a trilogy. I had this in mind when I began this book. In fact, I know each character what their beginning is, their arc, and their end. All except my bad guy that is. Holy crap its hard to make a bad guy really bad. I mean, yeah I can say he’s just insane but come on, that’s just not gonna fly with an editor. Plus, I have three bad guys but only one is the ultimate villan. Oh I’m so out there on this one!!

One day I’m going to write a book on all the comments I make to myself while writing as well as all the comments that Rebecca says. Some of them make me want to scream, others actually help. While I was stressing out Sunday on how to manage my bad guys and their stories Rebecca simply said, “Tell one story at a time. Focus on one bad guy in each book.” Oh soooo simple. I’m very blessed to say that I am PLOTTING the first book out with limited book two focus. Of course I have to add a little here and there to work with in book two but I’m so happy now that my mind is not spinning out of control.

While I have your attention however, I’d like to say I wish you all a happy holiday season. Recently while I was working I was told that one of my students wasn’t allowed to participate in anything to do with Santa Claus. At first I thought it was because her religion didn’t believe in the celebration of Christmas. Over the years most religions have conceded that scholars are right and Christ wasn’t born in the fall and that early catholics picked the time to celebrate his birth to offset the pagan holidays. So I just assumed that was what it was with my student. However, I was wrong. Her family simply doesn’t believe in the commercialism of Christs birthday. They don’t believe in Santa or what he stands for. So, just out of curiosity I wonder what you all think? Me, I see what they mean but I also believe that Santa is a great tool. I told my children that Santa helps deliver presents and spread God’s message.

 

Thanks all,

Sayde Grace

Phantasy Friday: A Winter Solstice Celebration

A check into history as to the origins of Christmas reveals its Pagan roots. Emperor Aurelian established December 25 as the birthday of the “Invincible Sun” in the third century as part of the Roman Winter Solstice celebrations. Shortly thereafter, in 273, the Christian church selected this day to represent the birthday of Jesus, and by 336, this Roman solar feast day was Christianized. January 6, celebrated as Epiphany in Christendom and linked with the visit of the Magi, was originally an Egyptian date for the Winter Solstice. I’ve heard both arguments as to the choosing of December 25 to celebrate Christ’s birth. One negative: it was the Church’s way of Christianizing the Pagan holiday to make it its own, giving them control over conquered cultures. The other positive: the Church wanted to effectively demonstrate its sincerity it meant no harm to conquered cultures; absorbing current practices to ensure it wouldn’t completely erase their histories.

Boring technical stuff first. Speculation as to whether the birth of Christ should belong to Yule or Spring Equinox probably stems from a number of cultures that considered Spring Equinox the beginning of the year. The classical Greeks invented the still-used system of numbering the degrees of the zodiac of signs according to the beginning of the seasons, and decided that the fiducial (the point accepted as a fixed basis of reference or comparison) of that zodiac should be O ̊ Aries on March 21, Spring Equinox. In the ancient Roman calendar March was the first month, still reflected by the numerical names for some of the months; September (7), October (8), November (9), December (10). January 1st was officially adopted as the beginning of the year in 153 BC to coincide with the date of entry into office of the Roman consuls. But it wasn’t until sometime after the adoption of the Gregorian calendar that the church settled on January 1st to be the beginning of the year. It seems I remember reading it wasn’t until the mid-eighteenth century that January 1 superseded the Annunciation (March 25) as the beginning of the church year in England. Hopefully Rita Bay, being the fantastic historian she is, may be able to help! She’s also featuring multicultural holiday posts all this month at www.RitaBay.com .

Debates aside, after a number of emails asking how Winter Solstice is celebrated, I’m going to try to recreate one here.

To start, Yule (Winter Solstice) is connected with Rebirth, a celebration of New Beginnings. It occurs when the Sun enters O ̊ of Capricorn, usually December 21, but occurring on December 22 this year.

A festive occasion, at this ritual there are always a few guests, some of whom are not Pagan. This Sabbat, more than any other, is an ideal “bridge” ritual since the basic symbolism of Yule and Christmas are so similar. The symbolism works, and it makes a valid point of universality.

The altar displays all necessary magickal tools: athame, sword, chalice, bells, besom, candles, mortar and pestle, charcoal brazier and incense, God article and Goddess article, salt, and water. It’s centered by a Yule log decorated with evergreens and three candles: one white for the Maiden, one red for the Mother, and one black for the Crone. Around the rim of the altar is a holly wreath (which can be a hula hoop covered with silk holly and glitter). This will be lifted up later in the ritual for participants to step through.

Whether conducted in daylight, or at night under the stars, with participants in full Wiccan attire this ritual carries visual and auditory impact. If you’re ever invited, I would urge you to attend!)

Greetings and Centering begin the ritual, with red-garbed High Priestess (HPS) and High Priest (HP) (in black) greeting each other as usual. The HP then greets the black-garbed Crone (wise woman, and usually longest practicing among the group, representing the ending solar year) and white-garbed Maiden (younger member, usually recently ordained into the order, representing the new solar year). HP then withdraws to the edge of the circle, to lead the group in a centering meditation. Guests may be invited to pray according to their belief as energy is centered from the Cosmos (heavens) above and the Earth below.

Casting Circle
HPS is dressed in red as Mother, Maiden in white, and Crone in black. The three cast Circle according to the following sequence, and it’s a beautiful and moving ritual involving the use of magickal tools and appropriate words:

Sweeping on three levels with twig besom: Maiden
Cleansing the circle: Maiden—earth and water: Crone—fire and air.
Banishing pentagrams: HPS
Defining circle on three levels with sword: Crone
Invoking Spirit with wand: HPS

At that point Consecration begins. Words appropriate to the ritual are spoken by the HPS, always with the entreaty to “allow no evil in, allow no evil out”. Upon completion Passing the Kiss is done HPS to Maiden to Crone to circle.

A calling of the Watchtowers –representing one of the four elements—now begins, a spoken ritual called by individual members stationed at a distance, and requesting the presence of the element and its protection during the ceremony. The echoes build awareness, energy, focus and power. Corresponding colored lights are lit and raised by each with their calls.

East is the first to call, Air, a yellow light.
South is next, Fire, a red light.
West is next, Water, a blue light.
North is next, Earth, a green light.
(Anyone wanting the actual words, feel free to email me. They’re beautiful in their Charge.)

Then Invocation of the Goddess, is performed by HPS, Maiden and Crone, and finished by HPS/Mother.

Invocation of the God follows immediately, by HPS. HP, standing in the East, holds an unlighted gold candle toward the altar to light it from the white candle held forward by HPS. Words appropriate to the ritual are called between HP & Maiden, HP & Crone, HPS/Mother & HP and ending with HPS/Mother. The Crone directs people to move doesil ( pronounced jestle: clockwise) around the circle toward the East. As each participant passes to the west of the altar, the Crone passes the holly wreath over him/her. Maiden helps each one step out, and hands them a small white candle. As each person passes the HP they are to light their candle from the God candle. Usually the third verse of Silent Night/Solstice Night is sung, followed by Joy to the World for the procession.

After all are again standing in a circle, still holding their lit white candles and ringing the consecrated circle in light, HP brings his candle to the altar, and greets the three ladies.

Great Rite

All four touch chalice and athame, as they speak the traditional affirmation of life, a beautiful rhyming ode. Then all sing Deck the Halls while blessed cakes are passed until everyone has some. Use the traditional words here—they are Pagan!

Closing

When there are non-Pagans or even cowans as guests, instead of the usual sharing, the HP and HPS will open the circle with athame and sword, in preparation to carry out the old tradition by burning the Yule log in the fireplace (or bonfire), inviting all others to bring their candles too. HPS hails the Watchtowers in turn, who offer thanks to their aspects, Hail them, offer farewell and Blessed Be. Each extinguishes his light upon conclusion.

The ceremony closes with the HPS calling: The circle is open but unbroken.

The HP then calls: Let us carry it with us in spirit as we proceed to the Yule fire.

At the fireplace (or bonfire) everyone places their small candles around the Yule log as it burns. Gifts are exchanged, blessed wine and cakes are shared and enjoyed, and end with “merry meet.”

This was a rather clinical rendition, but I have faith in you. Y’all are writers. I know you can paint the stars pricking the indigo velvet of the night sky. Work in the cries of owls and other night birds, disturbed by the rising energy. Recreate the cadence of droning chant and sharp rung bell. The rattle of the twig besom as it sweeps away negativity. Droplets of water falling to earth like sparkling pieces of shattered crystal, blessing the perimeter of the Circle. The spill of salt along measured steps, a protection against evil. The intermittent glint of flame and moonlight along the polished length of the sword wielded by the Crone. A raised hand extending from crimson fabric, a smooth, slender length of birch topped by a single crystal gripped tight while Invoking spirit.

Weave in the way the wind pushes against you in a startling gust, swirling hems and fluttering cowled hoods around uplifted faces just as the East Watchtower cries out for Air’s presence. The way the bonfire leap highs, red and blue flames writhing amid a burst of sparks, candle flames guttering then flaring the exact moment the South Watchtower invokes his spirit aspect, Fire.

You can describe finale, the mystic swirling shift of robes as participants’ feet move in dancing unison until they’ve encircled consecrated space, flickering white candles held before them.

Who knows, this ritual may be the conclusion you’ve been looking for to end a story you’ve already written. Or it may be the beginning of a new one; a story sparked to life and carrying as much promise as the rebirth of the Sun.

Good writing everyone! Enjoy the days (and nights) preceding the upcoming Holidays!

~Runere~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com  Friend her on Facebook at Runere McLain. Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Wish you were here…Scotland

Photo by Tom Gardner...sheep grazing

For today’s return to our journeys, I am sorry it will be rather short and sweet. I have a story to finish editing for the Golden Heart Contest.                                   

Beautiful photo of landscape by Helen Morton

 

I chose Scotland for the topic in honor of a Christmas tale I wrote a few years ago for my sister as sort of a Christmas gift. First let me say thankfully she was never involved in an accident that made her blind, nor does she live on a large farm in Scotland. That was just the way the story came to me at the time. She does, however, have her very own protective “elf” in her husband Shane.

Snow covered farm in Inverness-inspiration for the farm in the story

 

A moonlit night -Photo also by Tom Gardner

I also took some creative license with “Oskoreidi” and his legend. I called upon an ancient pagan belief practically forgotten after Christianity took over. Before Christmas, the pagans or heathens celebrated this time of year around the Winter Solstice. There is a blurry line separating the customs of Yule as it was known at the time around Celtic lands and Christmas traditions that replaced it.

 

There is a yule custom which involves this Rowan tree. What is it?

Many cultures view “Oskoreidi” also known as Odin”, :Oski” or Yule Elf” as stern or terrifying, carrying off rude or ill-will persons. However I used his persona as the bringer of blessings, fulfiller of desires and granter of wishes to those who were courteous or clever.   

 

The lights of the city of Dundee in Eastern Scotland

So I know this is an early Christmas post, but I do it in celebration of the release of the book Christmas Angelsfrom Whortleberry Press. http://whortleberrypress.com/  It’s a pleasure to share the honor of having a short story  published with a fellow Southern Sizzle Romance blogger. Since she seems to have a magical gift of her own for writing wonderful short stories, I feel a great sense of accomplishment to have one good enough to be included with hers.

Edinburgh at Christmas- credit to Helen Morton for a wonderful eye with the photo

 

So until next time, like the character Wendy in a Magical Christmas Vision, I hope you enjoy these beautiful scenes from Scotland.

Christmas Day- The Non-Badurday Badurday

I’m not sharing a bad boy today. Since today is Christmas day, I decided to showcase the man who came to Earth to save us from the baddest of the bad- Satan. Now, I’m not gonna get on a soapbox and preach to you about my beliefs but I’m a Christian and this is my holiday. So, here are some old master paintings of Jesus, the reason for the season.  For those of you that celebrate Solstice, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, I wish for you a wonderful holiday season as well.  Have a blessed year 2011, everyone.

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