I had a dream last night. I died and went to heaven. As I was standing there at the Pearly Gates, talking to God, He sneezed. I didn’t know what to say.
The joke above is a very old one. It revolves around the age old habit of saying “Bless you” whenever someone in the room sneezes. The origin comes from the ancient belief that when someone sneezes their heart stops for a moment risking death. Other beliefs are that the soul leaves by way of the nose. Saying “Bless you” is supposed to keep the soul from leaving.
In reality, this happened the other night at a family gathering. There were people from various sections of the country and various faiths. We had everything from Southern Baptist to agnostic. I was the one who sneezed with the result of more than half the people at the table saying “Bless you.” It got me wondering why those who are not normally superstitious still cling to this one. After all, the chances of a fatal sneeze are minuscule. I have however seen people with a nose big enough to accommodate a Greyhound bus so a quickly exiting soul could be a danger to them.
In today’s culture of political correctness this unsolicited blessing could become a sign of rudeness. How does a sneezer know that the people blessing him are not doing him any harm? Can you be overly blessed? Does an agnostic blessing even work? Is it ok for a Catholic to bless a sneezing Jew and vice versa? Would they have to convert? Maybe the person just doesn’t want to be blessed.
And what if in the future this leads to more superstitious traditions? What if one starts that’s totally opposite where when someone farts everyone in the room says, “Curse you”. This could become especially prominent in elevators. It might come in handy too as the farter joins in with the curse to leave doubt as to who the guilty party is.
Personally I find it annoying. I’m not gonna die from a sneeze. I do my own blessings, just as I do my own curses. So don’t expect me to thank you for keeping me from a nonexistent, fatal sneeze.
Now that the party candidates are for the most part decided and let’s face it – there are no winners here, I think its time to do the only thing a red-blooded American curmudgeon can do and throw my proverbial hat in the ring. Unlike the other candidates I am actually gonna have a presidential platform and announce my plans for the future of America – in writing – right here. Continue reading My Presidential Platform
I’ve wanted to write on the recent events in Paris and about terrorism in general. I wrote several articles I knew were only knee-jerk reactions which I didn’t publish. The first version I wrote was akin to rounding up anyone who had ever walked into a mosque and chasing them down with torches and pitchforks. However colorful the imagery of that article it did go a little over the top. In another I preached universal brotherhood along the lines of why can’t we all just get along. But I’ve done that already so I didn’t want to repeat myself. Then I decided that I needed to look at the patterns causing this latest blight on the human condition. It’s all boiling down to one of the most basic of ‘them vs us’ reasons, religion. Continue reading The Them vs Us Dilemma
I don’t think some people realize what they are asking for when they say they want a white Christmas. Remember, the Christmas holiday season is one of the busiest travel times of the year. Also many of us still have shopping to do. So what you are really asking for is weather conditions that will cause delays in airplane, train and automobile travel. Conditions that will make even walking dangerous due to icy sidewalks.
This year it looks like the area I live in is not gonna get heavy white stuff for Christmas. But I’m not sure that makes up for the years when we had to walk through shoveled sidewalks that were reminiscent of World War 1 trench warfare and drive on streets full of wishes and hopes. The white snow matching your white knuckles as you wished it wasn’t so slick and you hoped you didn’t hit anything. Continue reading Why Do You Want a White Christmas?
This fall holiday of Halloween trick or treat where you dress up in the most current monster costume and ‘threaten’ neighbors until you get enough candy to put even non-diabetics into a sugar coma, marks the beginning of the Christmas season for family get togethers and end of the year celebrations. But for many people not of a Christian belief, such as Wiccan, the Halloween holiday marks the passing of the old year and wishes for the best in the upcoming year.
The original name for this holiday celebrated at this time of year is Samhain, pronounced Sow-wen. One source says that the word comes from the Gaelic words ‘sam’ which means summer and ‘fuin’ which means end. This also marks the end of the year’s harvest. Most people celebrate it to coincide with Halloween on October 31 but the true sabbath is celebrated during the first full moon in Scorpio.
Samhain is a time of endings therefore associated with the Crone aspect of the triple goddess, the elder stages of life revered with images of Hecate. This is probably the origin of the hag-like witches with long wart-crowned noses however Wiccans find this image of a witch as offensive as an African-American might find a black-face comedy routine.
Samhain is also a time of new beginnings and carries many of the same traditions commonly associated with the Julian calendar’s New Year’s Eve. It’s a time to put behind us all the harmful things in our life. It makes a perfect time to quit smoking or other bad habits of mind or body. Part of the celebration for many Wiccans is using a household broom called a besom to ritually sweep the home of the previous year’s bad influences.
Since Samhain is the death of the old year and birth of the new the veil between the worlds of the living and dead is said to be the thinnest on this day. That makes it a good time to remember ancestors with peace and love. Wiccans will decorate their alters with photos of passed loved ones while sharing the favorite foods and drinks of their dead relatives with guests. Many also leave a plate of food outside the home for the souls of the dead.
So this week-end while you are walking like a zombie, waving your fairy princess wand or bobbing for apples, take a few moments to realize that for some this is still a religious holiday and they are spending a more somber period of self-reflection.
- Cunningham, Scott, (1999).Wicca:A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
- Drew, A. J., (1998) Wicca For Men. New York, NY: Kensington Publishing Corp.
Close to forty thousand lives are lost to suicide each year. There must be a reason for this. It must be something simple. Something like… EVERYONE HAS DEPRESSION. The only difference is that some of us deal better than others.
In fact, people having depression and thoughts of suicide are not anything new. Read Hamlet’s famous soliloquy. You know the one, it starts “To be or not to be.”
Yes, I have severe depression. I’ve had it for years. I wake up every morning with disappointment; disappointment that I’ve woken up. And if I believed in the one-shot-life dogma of the Judeo-Christian religion I probably would have offed myself a long time ago. The belief that once you die you get judged to go up, down or some other more mysterious outcome causes a person to feel that death is the solution and we’ll work out the details when we get there.
I have absolutely no problem with people who commit suicide. Yes, its sad for those who are left behind but the well known truth is that everyone dies. And I strongly believe that we all have the right, whether we take advantage of that right or not, to decide when that death is going to happen. Some people may not want to know when they are going to die, but having control over that one last act is for some people, the only control over their life that they ever had.
However I am a firm believer in reincarnation. That belief that you keep doing it until you get it right. Sorta like the student in English class that keeps getting their paper handed back to them from the teacher with big red letters at the top that say “I KNOW YOU CAN DO BETTER!” It makes more sense to me to think that since even the christians teach that life is a series of lessons, there has to be more than one class. I think it’s more like you live – you get lots of life lessons – you die and get your grade for the class – then if you haven’t graduated yet, perhaps by moving on to Nirvana, you come back to the next class for more lessons.
So this philosophy is what keeps me breathing instead of “cinching up my belt around my ‘waste’.” If life sucks this bad this time, what the hell is it gonna be like the next time? I’m in no hurry to find out. To paraphrase the bard, it’s better for me to suffer the current slings and arrows of outrageous fortune then to take arms against a sea of trouble and by opposing end them. I’m in no hurry to see what dreams may come otherwise. At least that’s what I think.