1 lemon peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1  ½  pint frozen or fresh blueberries
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water

Place all ingredients in large sauce pan, bring to a boil, stirring constantly until blueberries pop and sugar dissolves.

Boil gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 30 min. Pour into hot sterilized jars. Process in boiling water bath for 10 min in 1/2 pt jars

Yield: 1 ½ pints

Note: I love making this as a gift for the holidays. In the years it doesn’t ‘jell’ I call it a sauce, and recommend that people use it on pancakes and ice cream.

4 apricots
3 peaches
2 nectarines
4 plums

½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
¼ cup cider vinegar

Peel all fruit and cut into medium-sized chunks. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until the fruit is tender, about 15 minutes.

Lower heat, add spices, and heat for 1 minute.

Boil over medium-high heat for about 45 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently.

Ladle chutney into hot, sterilized, preserving jars, leaving a ½-inch headspace. Wipe rims clean. Seal according to manufacturer’s directions.

Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Allow chutney to mature for at least one month before using.
Yield: 6 ½ pint jars

Note: This recipe is perfect for my friends who can’t have sugar. Served with meat (especially pork, but not fish — except salmon) or strong cheeses, this can be an elegant addition to a meal, or a condiment slathered on a sandwich.

The first, and sometimes only, ethic found in Wicca is the last two lines of the Rede: An It Harm None, Do What Ye Will. “Rede” is an old word meaning, “counsel or advise.” The word “an” means “if.” The Rede advises us that “If it harms none, do what you want.” In this sense, the Rede echoes the Buddhist ethical concept of “ahimsa” [from the Sanskrit for “non-injury”] or total harmlessness. The Rede, on the other hand, recognizes that sometimes injury is unavoidable or necessary. Eating, for example, is essential to human life – but is obviously injurious to the plant or animal eaten; and self-defense may require injury to another in order to prevent injury to oneself. If the Wiccan ethic was a dogmatic “Thou shalt not harm,” it would be impossible to live up to.

Instead, we are told that the path of least harm is the ethical path. We are expected to think before we act, and to take responsibility for the consequences of our actions, as well as our failures to act, because not acting to prevent harm is to cause it, by an act of omission rather than commission.

Original Sin and The Question Of “Evil”

Wiccans do not believe that humans are born or conceived in sin. Although there are a few exceptions, the natural process of reproduction is a celebration of the Divine. Furthermore, we find the concept of “sin” harmful to the human spirit, causing as it does a sense of separation from the Divine. For us, the idea of a divided or contested universe as a battleground between some divinely-created but rebellious Principle of Evil and the Divine itself is (frankly) absurd. Evil needs no supernatural force to manifest and the stepping aside of personal responsibility that usually accompanies the cry of ‘the devil made me do it’ is as close to a sin as we come.

There are actions we perceive as “evil” based on their effects, usually violence against another. Although we avoid calling an action evil simply because we do not like the effect, we nonetheless recognize that acts such as rape, or child molestation, are not permissible under any system of ethics. We acknowledge the force of destruction as an innate part of the cycle of life-death-rebirth and that, in many cases, ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are subjective evaluations of actions and their consequences.

Karma and The Threefold Law

The Threefold Law states: Whatever you send forth, whether good or ill, will return to you threefold. This is one version of the Law of Cause and Effect (for every action, there is an equal reaction) where the returning energy is magnified three times. (The number three is symbolic, rather than literal.) In our mechanistic, Newtonian-ruled reality, cause-and-effect play an important role and that is the antecedent of this Law. It is not a moral code, it is a statement of belief in how things work and so it would better be described as the Law of Return (That which you send forth shall return).

In the sense of the Law of Return, it relates closely with the correct concept of karma: consequences of actions. Karma, despite what many writers have said is not a system of reward or punishment; it is a system for regulating (life) lesson learning.

A witch does not need external systems of reward or punishment – we are not donkeys! Instead, we realize that we are responsible for our own actions, and reactions. We see ourselves as dwelling in a world that is divine and holy, and so we treat it with reverence. That reverence is the basis upon which we conduct ourselves with all aspects of the world: plants, animals, all living beings. We have a tremendous freedom, balanced by the responsibility to not engage in behavior that does harm to the sacred.

Love Of Nature

We see the Divine manifest in, and as, Nature: the Earth is our Mother from whom we are born, by whom we are nourished, and She devours our bodies at death. As we are part of Nature, so harming Nature is harming ourselves; and therefore ecology is a vital concern to a Witch. The life-cycle of Nature is not something we are separate from, but which we are directly involved in and with. While not every Wiccan is an ecological activist, we strive to preserve the natural balance necessary to the continuation of all our fellow beings.

The True Will

Every man and every woman possesses a spark of the Divine. That spark may be kindled into a shining blaze with the complete alignment and understanding of the True Will. In other words, the True Will is the Will of the highest and divine Self, the actualized potential of that Divine Spark. It is the Higher Self expressed as a verb: expressed through action within manifestation. Just as we have a moral obligation to pursue our own spiritual evolution, we have the same obligation to discover, and then act in accordance with, our True Will.

There are some corollaries that follow naturally from the foregoing. The first of these is that no one’s True Will can truly be in conflict with another’s: both are part of the Infinite Oneness. The second is that the energy of the Universe is behind the True Will. The third is that the inertia of the Universe is opposed to actions that conflict with the True Will of the person performing those acts. The fourth is that each individual who realizes and actualizes her/his True Will makes it easier for others to do so, by increasing the inertial force of the Universe. The fifth is that when two individuals collide, one or the other is off their proper course; one or the other (or both) has strayed from doing their True Will.

Know Thyself

The phrase “Know Thyself” was written over the front doors of ancient temples of the Mysteries and Wiccans understand their obligation to the Divine within to strive to know, to understand, to comprehend their Divine Nature – to achieve spiritual self-realization – and then to actualize that Divine Potential by bringing it into full manifestation.

In doing so, the Witch examines her/his nature, character, and feelings, and works to absorb and dissolve the neuroses and complexes that interfere with her/his spiritual evolution. We recognize that these inhibitions were once necessary (as a crutch is to the person with a broken leg) to help survive and function in adverse circumstances. But when they have become counterproductive they must be transformed into functional ways of dealing with life’s needs and interactions with others.
 
Perfect Love, Perfect Trust

These “Perfect Words” on one level mean “Perfect Love for the God/dess, Perfect Trust in the God/dess” and might be re-phrased as “let go, and let God/dess.” On another level, they speak of the relationship that must exist between the members of the working group (a.k.a circle, or coven).

Perfect Love is unconditional love, it is not blind. One loves the other, warts and all, in spite of — and sometimes because of — their flaws and blemishes. It means loving the other as an evolving manifestation of the Infinite Oneness, in whom the Divine is made manifest. It means accepting them as co-travelers on the path of spiritual evolution, members of the close-knit “spiritual family by choice” you Work with. It also means forgiving them when they hurt us, whether inadvertently or in the heat of emotion.

Perfect Trust is trust that is earned and returned, at the same time and on both sides. Again, it is not blind because it takes into account the flaws and blemishes which Perfect Love forgives, and does not attempt to exact a burden from the other which that other is not capable of bearing. Perfect Trust means trusting that the other person has our best interests at heart, and would never deliberately intend us harm, even when their actions might hurt our feelings or do us injury. One must have Perfect Trust in each other member of the magickal group before one joining that group. Therefore, the members of the magickal group must have demonstrated their worthiness of that trust before we join them. (Of course, one must have earned the Perfect Trust of the members before being accepted among them.)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

The ethics of Wicca are based on an assumption of self-responsibility and discernment; actions are evaluated in terms of their motivations. Witches learn to distinguish between intentional harm, and unintentional harmful effects. In either case, the person is responsible for the consequences of her/his actions; but inability to foresee those harmful consequences is different from failing to think ahead; and both are different from a deliberate, conscious intent to cause harm. The ethics of Wicca are far from being the “free love, free will, no consequences” code that others have attempted to portray us having. In taking responsibility for what we do – and don’t – do we hold ourselves to a high standard.

~ Lisa Mc Sherry

The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions has been consistent in upholding its mission statement and in providing a forum for these kinds of interactions to occur, proving that indeed there are non-violent methods of conflict resolution; it works. Let peace begin. So be it.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Four steps toward lasting peace in the Middle East has been proposed by the Board of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) this week.

The short- and -long-term steps proposed are:

* immediate humanitarian relief for civilian populations affected together with rebuilding of civilian infrastructure;

* a negotiated return of prisoners now being held by rival sides;

* an encouragement to religious leaders of the region to take a lead in resolving outstanding disputes; and

* an invitation to spiritual communities world-wide to address “the fissures and tensions in the inter-religious movement that have developed as a result of this conflict.”

The members of the Council’s Board of Trustees, who issued a statement with the proposed steps, represent the major religious and spiritual traditions in the world. The statement mourns the deaths that have occurred and are occurring among the Lebanese, Israelites, and Palestinians and welcomes UN Resolution 1701 calling “for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to monitor the truce.”

It states: “In an increasingly interdependent world, the well-being of all peoples is interconnected. In such a world, the smallest unit of survival is, indeed, the whole human family.” The statement begins: “Hatred is never ended by hatred but by
mutual understanding and regard. Peace is at once the destination and the path. These convictions come from the deepest beliefs of the world’s religious and spiritual communities.” It continues: “We commit ourselves to the nonviolent resolution of antagonisms through dialogue and negotiation, diplomacy and compromise.”

In a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan enclosing the statement, Board Chair William E. Lesher wrote: “The statement welcomes the recently adopted UN resolution 1701. It looks forward to the weeks ahead when this delicately negotiated resolution will require great restraint, positive international engagement and a spiritual commitment to peace if the diplomatic achievement arrived at in New York is to take effect on the ground in the Middle East.”

Council Trustees reported it took many days of discussions to produce the statement and that members indicated they had not seen such strong differences among their contacts as this escalation of the Middle Eastern conflict had aroused.

The Council has hosted three modern Parliaments attracting 7,000 to 9,000 participants (Chicago, 1993, Cape Town, 1999, Barcelona, 2004). It dates its founding from the first Parliament in 1893 at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition. The next event will be in 2009 at a site to be determined. The mission of CPWR is to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its other guiding institutions in order to achieve a peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Statement of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions on the Current Conflict in the Middle East

Peace is at once the destination and the path. Hatred is never ended by hatred but only by mutual understanding and regard. These convictions come from the deepest beliefs of the world’s religious and spiritual communities. We, members of the Board of Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of World Religions, grieve at the continuing violence and the loss of life and civilian infrastructure and damage to the earth in Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. We mourn the many deaths that have occurred and pray that the violence may end soon. All human lives are sacred and must be respected. In an increasingly interdependent world, the well-being of all peoples is interconnected. In such a world, the smallest unit of survival is indeed the whole human family.

We are convinced that real security cannot be achieved by war and violence, but only by a respect for human rights and by a spirit of cooperation and tolerance. The recent conflict in the Middle East demonstrates yet again that violence only begets further violence in a never-ending spiral that has no victors but only victims. Towards a Global Ethic:

An Initial Declaration presented to the 1993 Parliament affirms a strong commitment to a culture of non-violence and mutual respect. We commit ourselves to the nonviolent resolution of antagonisms through dialogue and negotiation, diplomacy and compromise. We, therefore, welcome the UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to monitor the truce. Once a ceasefire is fully in place, we propose a series of short- and -long-term steps that might help the region move toward a more lasting peace:

Immediate humanitarian relief for the civilian populations of the countries affected together with the rebuilding of civilian infrastructure.

A negotiated return of prisoners now being held by the rival sides.

An encouragement by the Parliament to the religious leaders of the region to come together to invoke their common heritage, to denounce religiously-motivated violence, and to take the lead in attempting to resolve outstanding disputes.

An invitation to spiritual communities world-wide to address the fissures in the interreligious movement that have developed as a result of this conflict.

The situation in the Middle East is very serious; it threatens the peace and security not just of that region but of the whole world. It is our hope that the steps we have outlined might help to defuse tensions and provide a calmer environment within which the peoples concerned can work out their differences peacefully and constructively. To this effort the Parliament commits its full support.
Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions
70 E. Lake St, Suite 205, Chicago, IL 60601, USA
e-mail: info@cpwr.org website: www.cpwr.org
August 18, 2006
Contact: Emily Chou, 312-629-2990 ext. 244

Etymology: Middle English frend, from Old English frEond; akin to Old High German friunt friend, Old English frEon to love, frEo free
1 a : one attached to another by affection or esteem b : Acquaintance
2 a : one that is not hostile b : one that is of the same nation, party, or group
3 : one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)
4 : a favored companion

~ from m-w.com

I’ve been musing on the concept of friends and (of course) friendship lately. I’m not one to have a large circle of people I call friends. I have more now than ever before, but I would still have trouble filling the table with 16 people at my annual Feast – and some of them would be new acquaintances.

What makes a friend? To some degree, it’s a person who I can talk to. Likely, when we’re getting to know each other, we can talk for hours. Whether chatting online or sharing a beverage in person, we talk. Agreement is not necessary (although we can’t disagree about everything, that becomes tedious). Having different backgrounds can be exciting. A different set of experiences is vital (otherwise, it’s not a conversation, just a series of yes statements.)

A friend has something more, something almost intangible. Perhaps it’s the refreshing honesty of knowing that there is a person who will tell you when you are wrong, not being spiteful about it, just matter of fact. Moreover, it’s a person who is willing to go with you to make amends, and help you figure out how to not repeat the mistake. A friend can be the revealing mirror that encourages our betterment. They aren’t like family (with their occasionally overly irritating ability to remember details you hoped were long forgotten), nor are they therapists.

I am watching a close friendship of several years reach its conclusion. The end began somewhere around 18 months ago and I don’t know what or how… the post-mortem has not yet begun. Nevertheless, the patient is on the table and extreme measures are required to resuscitate and revive. My friend has been through extraordinary changes in this time and when I look back, I see that those changes obscured our increasing distance.

What is doing it in, however, is that it turns out that to continue our friendship I have to maintain a close relationship with the spouse. Not necessarily hard to do as we’ve know each other even longer, but she is so angry with me she can not express it, except through my friend. I’m caught in a weird game of telephone where every interaction I have is copied (or repeated) to the other party and one person speaks for both, but the silent partner holds more power than the other two combined.

edit: I realize (after the post and a few hours) that my being ‘public’ with this is an attempt to break the cycle. Its not the best choice (I could always call them and say “now or never, lets talk this through”), but it is what I am doing at this time and in this place. I’ve written, I’ve responded, I’ve stated my willingness to work it out. I’ve even said that I think it CAN be worked out (which is pretty optimistic given how little I actually know about what’s going on).

edit: And, in this very moment I realize: I’m putting this on the line. If my friendship means something to the others involved, its time for them to put out (to be crude). If you have something to say: say it. Otherwise, shut up and go away. Stop playing games and be an adult. Friendship takes more than one person. I am part of the dynamic, and I could have done better, but our distance is not my fault. And every day that you put off talking to me and with me, that distance grows.

I have no desire to ‘get between’ the two of them. I just wish I could have my friend back. Or be given the courtesy of an honest interaction rather than this game.

Last night John and I celebrated his birthday (which was in May) by going to see Nickel Creek at Marymoor Park. He picked me up from work early because we know from past experience that it can take 3 hours to get from Seattle to Redmond (thats not even 20 miles, folks. Traffic is incredibly awful up here). We were just going to grab a burger before the show, but took a chance and stopped into a ‘steak and seafood’ place called Becks in the main part of Redmond.

They were just about to open at 4pm and we were invited to have our choice of seating. Nice comfy booths, wood tables, linens… this was not just a ‘joint,’ this was a good looking place hiding in a strip mall. Limited menu with a couple of fish specials, and a thoughtful wine list. Better and better. We looked at each other and said, what the hey and ordered. Grilled prawn ‘cocktail’ to start. A perfect appetizer, two large prawns for each of us. Perfectly cooked and just the right amount to wake up the tummy. Salads (green for me, caeser for him) with fresh greens and not too much dressing. Also, no onion or tomato (I know, others like them, but I don’t.) Then… the main course. I had a filet, grilled nicely with asparagus and a ‘potato cake’ of shredded potato mixed with asiago cheese and fried. YUM. John’s strip was perfectly done, and his mashed with basil was delightful.

We left room for dessert, believe it or not. Mostly by taking our time over the meal (almost 2 hours). We shared a slice of strawberry cake — yellow cake with white chocolate frosting, raspberry filling and strawberry filling. Incredibly good. JUST like I always imagine a ‘birthday’ cake would be.

Stuffed and happy, we finished the drive to the park and found our seats. Mid row, 7 rows from the front on the right side. I done good, if I do say so myself. John was in 7th Heaven.

Nickel Creek was incredible. I saw their show three years ago and they were good. Last night, they were gold. Of special note was their cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” which I was able to find on the Interet and have linked HERE. Play it loud.

Tonight the class joined JaguarMoon and we celerbated the firs of the three harvests: Lammas, the slaying of the Green Man.

My tradition believes that our ancestors saw grain as a manifestation of the Divine and personified it as the Green Man. Growing sturdy and strong through spring into summer, He is cut down by the sacred scythe and sleeps through the winter, to be reborn again the next spring. For us, grain symbolizes our link in an unbroken chain of birth-death-rebirth.

In our ritual, we rub grain (wheat, grass, corn, etc) through our fingers, and connect with our ancestors for a brief moment. We come to know the God and acknowledge how civilization came to us through agriculture. Peace, through the grain. We follow this by savoring a bite of fruit, taking in the knowledge in a visceral way. We connect.

With that, we give thanks for what we have harvested this past year. This is always a bit tricky for the newcomers. For us in the coven, its merely part of our cycle. (We planted this at Ostara and now give thanks at Lammas). We also give thanks to the Earth itself for her continuing fertility. It is a humbling moment, a joyous moment, and we enter it fully.

Here and now, in this moment and at this time, I give thanks for three things: my sweet love who brings me joy each day, my completed manuscript — now wending its way through the mailservice to its publication, and my delightful class.

May the Harvest find you happy, healthy and blessed beyond measure!