How to Start a Pagan Practice


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Rites of Passage Episode:

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S2E41 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Yucca: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-Based Paganism. I'm one of your hosts, Yucca.

Mark: and I'm the other one Mark.

Yucca: And this week we are talking about. Starting a practice. So you're interested, you've been hearing about reading, about listening about this pagan thing, this non theists pagan thing. And now what.

Mark: Right. Exactly. Because people can be attracted to these paths because they're creative because they're very individually selected. So you get to do the thing that you find meaningful and because they love the aesthetic, the witchy spooky kind of, you know, a cultish sort of aesthetic. But we. Live in a society where you.

You do the rituals that somebody else has prescribed you to do right. In Christianity or in Judaism or an Islam the, the rituals have already been prescribed and you just sort of go along

Yucca: plug right into what's already there.

Mark: Yeah. Whereas in paganism you create rituals. And so they can be really tailored to what you need, which is a real positive part.

But the challenge is the challenge of all creative endeavors, which is you're faced with that blank page. Now, what, so this episode is about the now what,

Yucca: and we hope that there will be some, some use as well for all of you who are listening, who have a practice, right? Maybe there's some bits in here that.

Can be incorporated into what you're doing or that this might kind of help make things make a little bit more sense.

Mark: Sure. An awful lot of starting a practice has to do with giving yourself permission. And we'll talk more about that as we go along today, but it's not just. Calming that critic voice that's in the back of your head saying, this is stupid.

You're looking silly. This is there's no reason to do this. And if you really grapple with that voice, then I suggest our episode on the critic voice, because we go into depth about how to work with that thing that we all have to contend with. But it's also. You know, getting used to the idea that you have permission to create your rituals.

However, works for you. There are techniques that have been, that people have learned about for thousands of years that are really effective at changing your consciousness, which is what the rituals are meant to do. So we can talk about all of those things and about structuring a ritual so that it, you go through the different phases, all that kind of stuff.

But in the end, what really matters is what do you want out of your ritual practice? And so I'm, I'm here to give you permission to do exactly what works for you in the course of. Building your practice.

Yucca: Yes. And not just, you know, we, we focus a lot on ritual, but the whole container that that's held within.

So not just your ritual, but what, what are you noticing? What are you feeling? What are you observing? What is your whole practice?

Mark: Yeah, because we're also accustomed to this kind of bizarre. Dissociation that happens with many of the, the mainstream religions where you do your religion on Sunday, and then you kind of put it in a box and you'd go off and you'd do your life for the rest of the week.

And then you go back on Sunday and you do it again. And a spiritual practice is a way of. It's a way of looking at the world. It's a way of understanding. What's a value and what's meaningful, and it really comes down a lot of the time as a pagan in relationship to nature to paying attention. We really have to be watching for what's happening in nature right now.

What is happening in the sky right now? I'm not because I'm saying you should do those things, but because there's so much joy and discovery and awe and ecstasy to be found in those kinds of natural experiences, if you're looking for them. So that's part of. Learning to have a practice is just learning to watch and, and pay attention.

Yucca: Yes. So why don't we start, let's start with that. Why? I mean, that was a beautiful introduction into the why, but why would we want to have a practice? What is the, what's the function of that in our lives?

Mark: Good idea. I guess for myself, I find my life is so much more meaningful now than before I had a pig in practice.

And I mean, I've been a pagan for a very long time now, so it's kind of hard for me to. Hearkened back all those decades. And then, you know, imagine who I would have been if I had not had this practice, but I know that it was very easy for me to be cynical and nihilistic and just disconnected from the many wonderful things that are happening in our world before I started.

A practice that actively engaged me with them. And I have had so many incredible peak experiences over the years as a result of formerly choosing to put myself in the position where I could have them, whether that's by doing a formal ritual or just by hiking to a mountain top or whatever it is. Having those experiences has tremendously enriched my life.

And I believe it's made me a wiser person. How about you

Yucca: so much of what you just said? I really relate to as well. It's about the, the richness of life. It's about that experience of life, the quality of it. And I think about how, how little time we actually do have. And that I want to live that to the fullest that I can to really, to live a very joyous life, to be present and to notice the amazing, the amazing world that here I am, I'm part of.

And I want that to be on a daily basis and also to have those really special moments. To have both of those that it's, that I'm alive and present all of the time. And I have these moments that I can look back to and go, wow. And if I get to have a deathbed that I'm remembering my life on and looking back that, that it will feel like a life well lived.

And did I, that I was there for. It's really in my own life.

Mark: Yeah. That's very well said. I I've mentioned this before, but we're, we're recording on the day after Halloween and I just came back from my ritual circles, 30th, Sowan ritual 30th, hellos ritual. So kind of a big. Big milestone. And one of the things that I do every year at this time of year is update my packet of death documents, advanced directives and my will, and you know, all that kind of stuff.

But one of the things that's in there is a farewell letter. And I realized looking over the farewell letter this year, and I didn't make many changes. But a lot of what's in there is just sort of recounting all of the amazing things I gotten to do and experience and see. And you know, this, just this, this celebration of wow, what a life.

And I certainly hope that I'm going to get a bunch more of it, but I, I already feel like I've had a very rich and very rewarding life in many ways. And that is the point. Of a practice like this it's to be happy and to help make the world a better place. So not just for ourselves, but for those that are around us and for future generations and for the biosphere to be, to be good people living well and happily, and.

In a, in a positive relationship with what is around us, whether that's human or non-human

Yucca: right. So, and, and tuned in to as close to weekend. Tell us what's really going on. We're interested in looking at and seeing what's really here. We don't need to, to make up and come up with make-believe things to see how special our world is.

It's fun. Stories are fun, but we can just be odd at what is, if we really pay attention to it.

Mark: Yes. Yes. And. You know, one of the things that I say about non theist paganism a lot is that it's the spirituality of the verifiably real, and maybe there's other stuff. Maybe there is some other dimension that's full of elves and fairies and gods.

And. Ghosts and all that kind of stuff. We don't have much evidence that that's the case. And so I don't believe it, but maybe it is true for my purposes. That doesn't matter. None of that, all that stuff is so ephemeral, you know, that if it's real, it sure is coy. It sure. You know, it plays this very, very subtle game.

And I am amazed enough by what is. Verifiably real in this world. Uh I'm I'm sitting here, we're recording this podcast. You're in New Mexico. I'm in California. We're having this, this video conference conversation and there is water falling from the sky outside my window. Water order that the life giver, the thing that all life absolutely requires and it's falling from the sky.

That's cool. That's really cool. And if it were cold enough, it would turn into these beautiful crystals and pile up in drifts and create silence everywhere you go, because it has this dampening effect on sound, all these cool, cool, cool things to be excited about.

Yucca: And then just follow that molecule. Just one of those little tiny water molecules and.

What's going to happen to it next, right. Is it going to go into the soil and how many little bodies is it going to go through before it returns back to the sky to do this falling thing again? Who knows where, right? How many thousands of miles or kilometers away and this again, and again, and again, and trace that back to well, that water molecule has been around a long time.

It might've been arrived. Comments, you know, it might be older than the solar system.

Mark: Right. And we incorporate them into our bodies and they, you know, take a ride around in us for a while. And then when we get disassembled they, they go off into something else and it's all miraculous, not in a magical sense, but in the sense of being simply or inspiring, if you know, what's actually going.

Yeah. So this is the kind of thing where I think you and I could go on, for example, after example of just how stunning this, this opportunity we have to live in aware self-aware sentience bodies is and how. But the point is, this is the kind of perspective that you can come to by having this kind of practice.

Yucca: That's right. Yeah. And this, this part is the, the non theist part, right. The, you know, wow. It's amazing. Right. We don't need to, we don't mean to be adding on extra stuff just to see that may or may not be real, the real stuff that none of us are going to argue about. Right. We're pretty much all going to agree that that water's falling from the sky.

Yes, right. There it is. And just taking a little closer look. Wow.


Mark: Yeah. So that's the why the why is to be happy and to be wise and to be a functional person and to have psychological tools so that when you're challenged, you. Can work with your own psyche so that you can Sue yourself so you can reassure yourself so you can gain more confidence so you can focus and be very effective in the moment.

It's no surprise that people like athletes. Extensive rituals often that they go through because all of those help them to focus and perform at their absolute height of performance. And that has everything to do with how they tie their shoes, or, I mean, Michael Jordan, the basketball player, or his university of North Carolina shorts under his professional NBA Jersey, every game of his career, because it was like, And well, it seemed to work out pretty well.

He was the greatest player there ever was. Now we're not claiming that there was any relationship between wearing the shorts and, you know, being the best of all time, but it helped him. It gave him more of a sense of confidence as he went out onto the court.

Yucca: Let's say it's Dumbo's feather,

Mark: right? Yes.


Yucca: Yeah. So why don't we talk a little bit about what a practice could look like knowing that every person's practice is going to be very, very different, but there are some common themes that we'll often see in practices for very good reason.

Mark: Right? Right. Well, to start with. I want to reassure people that you do not have to have an ornate, Byzantine, complicated operatic sort of.

Set of practices that you do every day. You, you, you don't need to have that. I don't, I have a short little practice, a little ritual that I do in the morning and then another one in the evening and two, and then I celebrate the eight holidays around the course of the year, once in a while, I'll do something for the full moon.

And to me, that's a lot to me. It's. Th that's a very full practice and I feel like it fulfills all the needs that I have. So don't feel like starting, this is starting your way up. A very steep mountain. It doesn't have to be.

Yucca: Yeah. And if you miss something that you intended to do, it doesn't make you a bad pig and it doesn't.

Don't worry about it. This, the point of the practice is to serve you not the other way around.

Mark: That's right. And that is a huge difference between theistic approaches of all stripes, not just pagan, but any theistic religion where you're worshiping gods. The idea is basically to be serving them, right.

That you're. And I mean, there are other, there are even other models. So in FIA stick religions, you're serving them, but in non-theistic practices, you are serving yourself. You're, you're serving yourself and the world, and those are the priorities. And then of course, yes, very empowering. And it tends to encourage people to be themselves in all of their unique, colorful, creative strangeness, which is why the pagan community is filled with people who are unique and wonderful and creative and strange.

And. Because all humans really are when they're given permission. There, I don't think I've ever met anybody that I thought was really in touch with themselves who was boring ever.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So with that said a simple way, you can start a practice is just very, very small. You can set up. Focus or alter and all that is, is an arrangement of objects that have symbolic meaning to you.

That's all that it is. It doesn't have to be in any particular order. It just, you just want it to be aesthetically beautiful to you. And you probably want to put some candles on there because candle light is very beautiful when you're in the dark and you light the candles and it creates this soft glow around the objects that are on the focus.

And also that gives you a way of feeling like you're activating the meaning. In the altar or focus. I, I should clarify focuses a word that's used in the atheopagan path of non theist paganism instead of the word altar. And the reason for that is that altar implies worship or sacrifice. And that's not really what we're doing.

What we're doing is we're creating a symbolic metaphorical. Physical arrangement, like a sculpture in a way. Of things that have meaning to us in various ways, things that tell us a story, whether it's a little pumpkin, because it's the fall and that's a seasonal meaning for you or whether it's a thing that belonged to your grandmother or a photograph, photograph bones, beautiful things from nature, like seashells and feathers.

All those kinds of things that can be, that can conduct meaning to you. So that's the thing that you can do. And it doesn't, once again, it does not have to be super complicated, but it can be a place where you start. Yeah. And then just contemplate that you don't have to do any rituals at it, light a couple of candles and just look at it and feel what you feel when.

Those candles are burning and that those objects are there for you.

Yucca: Yeah. It's just a, it's an opportunity to just pay attention, to focus as the name implies just for that moment or just when you notice it when you're setting it up and it can change. In fact, that's probably a positive thing for it to be changing as the season changes as you were, as you change as what you're going through changes.

You can change that to reflect what's happening in your life.

Mark: Yes. Yes, I have. As I said, I mean, I've been practicing this for now more than 30 years, but I have parts of my focus that don't change because there's symbols that I always want to be there, like a symbol for science and inquiry. And as you know, a section for ancestry and evolution.

Stuff like that. But then I have this central area that changes all the time with what I am hoping for in my life, with what's happening with the seasons. You know, with the fortune that I got out of a fortune cookie recently that says something that struck me as meaningful. So I stick it on there.

And so that's a way of keeping the focus alive in a way, because it's continually evolving and that's what life does, right. It continually evolves. And we as people, if we're continually evolving, then that's part of what this practice is about.

Yucca: Yeah. And then from there, And that that's enough in itself, but from there that's a really good place to start to bring something in. Maybe you take a few moments in the morning when you know, you get dressed and you take a moment just to hang out with your focus, maybe light that candle for a moment, or just do something.

It could be saying some words or a movement, depending on what feels good to you, maybe in the evening or both. Right.

Mark: And be as simple as just saying good morning, greeting the day, that way, you know, Because you would be amazed at how powerful those words can be. You know, if the first words that you say in the day or good morning, if the odds are better, that you're going to have a good morning.

Your, your perspective on things is more tilted in that direction. And so you're more likely to see the reasons why it is a good morning. Right. So that, that is a big. Towards starting a practice is just paying attention, creating an area for symbolic metaphorical, contemplation of focus starting in with small steps, maybe at the beginning and the end of the day.

Towards rituals and we'll put some links to resources about how to structure rituals and so forth in the notes to this podcast. So there. A ritual design workbook that you can download from the atheopagan ism website, for example. And that kind of walks you through the steps for creating a more complex

Yucca: ritual and gives you the why's for those steps.

Right? Because again, there's, there's a lot of different ways. There's not a right and a wrong, but there are ways that have certain. There's there's steps that have certain results. So it depends on what you're trying to achieve. And so how you're going to construct a ritual is going to be. Depending on what you want from it.


Mark: And there, there are a variety of kinds of rituals, right? I mean, there are seasonal rituals. We have the eight holidays around the course of the year, the summer solstice, the winter solstice, the autumnal Equinox and the spring Equinox. And then the points in between those which creates a, what we call the wheel of the year with its eight spokes.

So celebration of the passage of the seasons and the metaphorical meanings that we associate with each of those phases of the year. There's those kinds of rituals. There are daily rituals that are just kind of to remind you, Hey, I'm alive and we're in this world and it's really cool. And there's a sun up there and my food came out of the earth and.

You know, I, I am blessed by many things to be grateful for. So there's those kinds of rituals. And then there are also what we call rites of passage, which. Milestone celebrating milestones in people's lives. And we're familiar with a few of those because they happen in the mainstream culture like christening ceremonies or weddings, weddings, graduations.

Those are all rituals, right? Funeral. Rituals in the pagan world, we have a few more of them. We have naming ceremonies instead of christenings. And then we often have a Rite of passage into a teenager ness, young adulthood, and then a passage into full adulthood. And then we have weddings and we sometimes also have dissolution ceremonies for people that are, that are becoming unmarried.

And then we can have passages into elderhood when people are recognizing that they've arrived at that point in their lives. And then of course we have funerals memorials those kinds of the funeral rights.

Yucca: Right. We did an episode really diving into each of these probably about a year ago at this point.


Mark: Yes. So, you know, be sure to look at that. If you, if you want more kind of detail about what all those things are, but the point that I'm making is that there are lots of opportunities for rituals. If you choose to take them and rituals feel. That's one of the main reasons to do them is that they're, they're pleasurable.

They release dopamine and serotonin into our brains and that's where we get pleasurable feelings. So take those opportunities there. They're good to have.

Yucca: Right. And there's also another category, which is the, your intention rituals. When you have a certain. Purpose something that you're trying to achieve.

You're trying to let go of something or, or incorporate something new into your life. When you're trying to make a change, the ritual can be a really, really powerful way to do that. Part of doing that.

Mark: Right. And those are the kinds of rituals that are sometimes called spells in the broader pagan community.

When people talk about casting, a spell, they're talking about trying to affect some kind of change in themselves or in their life. And while as non theist science-based pagans, we don't believe that doing the ritual at your focus and waving a stick around and lighting a stick of incense and all that stuff has an effect, a hundred miles away.

We, we don't, we don't see that connection, but it nonetheless it affects you and the. The variable that you have control over in every situation in your life is yourself, right? Your, your attitude, your level of confidence, your focus, your did you bring your, a game, all that kind of stuff? And so if you want to be the kind of person who is consistently bringing their excellence and their creativity and their focus and their good humor and their, their They're optimism, right.

To every situation. Ritual work can be extremely powerful to help you to get to that space.

Yucca: Yeah. Because it's amazing how influential that variable is. The U variable.

Mark: Yes. Yes. And it's also amazing how, if you're not in the habit of monitoring, that sort of thing, how unconscious people can be of how influential that factor is on their lives.

Yeah. We were talking a couple of episodes ago. I think about when we talked about the shadow, we're working with the shadow. People will have things happen in their lives over and over and over and over again, the same sorts of relationship dynamics, the same sorts of disappointments. And. Sometimes things just happen to people and there's no rhyme or reason to it.

It's not like there's any cosmic plan, but if you start seeing a pattern like that over and over and over again, it's at least worth asking the question. What part did I play in this? Was, was there anything about how I approached this, that could have been different, that might've changed the outcome, right?

So it's as a part of that idea of. Ritual pig and practice as empowering yourself. It also comes to knowing yourself and that's part of the. Because we are complex and mysterious creatures. And, you know, as the years pass, as you get to know yourself more and more, at least in my experience, you get to like yourself more and more, you get more and more comfortable with who you are and more forgiving of the parts of you that maybe you're not so fond of because we all have.

Yucca: Yeah. But, and more able to work with those parts. Yes. Because when you, when you know, it's there. Then you've got a little bit, you're in a better position to set yourself up to not be in the positions in which you act the way you don't want to, or, you know, be able to step back when those things happen and, and, and just be more, have more agency in your own

Mark: life.

Yes. And that is another thing that we've talked about many times before. Is that a primary difference between. Well, the, the mainstream monotheism, certainly, but I would say fi ism generally, and non-focused pagan practices that ours is religion with agency. It's not, it's not this parental model where you're trying to please some authority figure.

It's you making your own decisions? And implementing them through ritual practices and psychological practices and paying attention and being as clear as you can be in order to advance the things that you care about in your life.

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: So let's talk a little bit about wheel of the year. We, we touched on that after setting up a focus and starting to do some little daily ritual practices celebrating the seasons is a really important aspect of being of being a pagan generally because things change and.

Our rituals that we do at those eight stations of the year are at some level designed to acknowledge that things have changed. It's not dry anymore. It's raining. And what does that mean for us? What does that mean for the biosphere here? What does that mean for my life personally? You know, what is my relationship to water?

Everybody can have different meanings associated with those holidays. For example, Yucca, I know you associate particular groups of organisms. With each of the stations around the course of the year. And that's a very interesting thing to me. It's not what I do, but it's a very interesting thing. I tend to interpret the stations of the holidays around the course of the year as sort of like plotting out the lifespan of a human.

So you start with birth at the winter solstice and then go into kind of toddler, young, childish, then, you know, sort of young adult teen full adult. Middle-aged and then elder and then death and decomposition, which is also a part of the process.

Okay. So that's one layer of how I view the, the cycle of the year.

Another layer is looking at the agricultural cycle, kind of from fallow and planning to planting and stewarding, and then to the three harvest festivals that happen towards the end of the year, leading up to Hallows or Halloween at the end of October, beginning of November. And so. As you start thinking about how you want to celebrate these holidays.

First of all, feel free to steal. It's perfectly, the highest compliment for a creative person is to steal something that somebody else has, has come up with. So don't, don't worry about doing it the same way that somebody else does if that really resonates for you.

Yucca: Well, being, being respectful though, When you start to get into the territory of cultural appropriation and things like

Mark: that.

Oh, you know, I didn't even think about that. I was. Thinking about stealing from within the Payton's sphere. But yes, cultural appropriation is something that we're really not in supportive here. There are indigenous practices and practices that are closed where if you're not invited into. Participating as a part of that tradition, you really ought to leave it alone.

Yucca: Right? It's like, you might like your neighbor's living room, but it's not okay to go and have breakfast there without their permission. Yes. Right. But I, I think what you were getting at was more with, within the pagan community where somebody might've, you know, put out there that, oh, you know, for. Like we we've talked about, you know, I say, oh, I celebrate these particular organisms or parts of the ecosystem and you as a listener go, Ooh, okay.

I like what Yucca is doing over here. But mark said that he was doing this and I kind of like that, but you know, my grandmother used to do this. I think, is that more what you were speaking

Mark: to mark? Yeah, that really is. One of the things about non theist paganism is that it is, it's a modern set of traditions.

We're not even pretending that we're drawing forward something from centuries ago, modern paganism w drawing forward some threads from Freemasonry and Western or cultism and stuff was basically invented in the 1940s. And.

Yucca: Along with the story of it being, oh, this is ancient and trying, trying to give it some authority or validity, but we don't think that something has to be old to be meaningful,

Mark: to be valid.

Yeah. Yeah. The whole idea that ideas are old, therefore they're really. Sacred is really kind of a bizarre idea when you think about it. We don't want old medical technology. We don't want old computer technology. We, you know, we

Yucca: have stoning someone because they committed adultery is pretty old idea, but yeah, not into doing that now.

Mark: Right? So there's, there's lots of old ideas that are discredited and aren't really worth anything. Whereas

Yucca: we have old ones that are. Yeah, right. For sure. Yeah. Not, not just saying, throw anything out, that's old, but look at it critically.

Mark: Right. And so we are practicing modern paths, which we're not drawing from other culture.

And that's a little bit different than many other pagans who point themselves back to the ancient Norris or the ancient Greeks or Egypt, something like that. And that's fine if that's what they want to do, you know, that's called Reconstructionism and that's all really great.

Yucca: But it's not not saying that you need to, if you have things in your family that not saying throw those out either because.

They come from specific cultures, like, no, great. That's your heritage? Awesome. Go for it. Right. Yeah. In my household, we do a lot of, of some of the more traditional Celtic things, because that's, that is our heritage. Right. But, but it wasn't, we didn't make that out of an aesthetic choice. That was just, oh, well, that's, that's who we are.

Right. That's right. You know, that's what my mom and her mom and her mom did. And so cool. But, but we, but we aren't specifically naming our holidays, you know, I'm in the high desert of New Mexico and. Not in Cardiff, right? So I'm not basing what I celebrate the wheel of the year as, as what they're doing in Cardiff, because that's a totally different climate.

It's a different place than where I am

Mark: and right. And that, that really brings up a very important point, which is that as you're thinking about how you conceptualize your wheel of the year, what's happening in nature around you. A really important factor. There are lots of folks in the pagan community who are celebrating a, a wheel of the year, which was basically conceptualized by a dude in England.

And so the concepts of what happens at different times of the year are based on the climate in England. And that's not where I live and it's not where you live. So it becomes important for us not to just get dogmatic about, well, this is in the book, so this is what we're going to have to do. But instead open our eyes, open our senses, look around at what's actually happening in the biosphere around us at each time of the year.

The first year that you do this, you might want to keep what's called a phonology. Which is basically just a wheel shaped diagram where you write it. It puts the month in a clockwise wheel around. Central hub and you write the things that you've observed in nature as you go around the course of the year.

And it'll tell you things about which birds are migrating through and which kinds of insects are showing up and what's happening with the color of the leaves and

Yucca: general temperatures. Right. Audi is, you know, and maybe not day to day, but what's, what's happening in general. Yeah.

Mark: I mean, if you do it once a week, then you'll have 52 little entries about what, what your biosphere is like, and that's useful, right?

Yeah. That's, that's very helpful for you to start to decide how you want to celebrate your holidays.

Yucca: And if you've just moved right. For those of you who are listening and have been. Practicing for years. That's a great thing to do when you move. Or even if you've been in near your location, say you were born and raised where you're living, that's just an amazing practice to do anyways, because it really, it really gets you in touch and gets you paying attention, just noticing.

Mark: Right. And then once again, because we don't want this to sound overwhelming, just. Do something for the first of those, those Sabbaths those holidays that comes rolling around the next one that we have in this time of year, as we speak is the winter solstice. And there are tons of traditions that go along with the winter solstice and you can pick and choose from among them.

You don't have to do anything you don't want to do, but Decorating a tree with shiny stuff in lights is actually a very pagan thing to do. It's a, in fact, there is a prescription in the Bible against doing it. Decorating trees with shiny objects is actually specifically called out as not a thing to do.

I think in Leviticus I did

Yucca: not know that I have to look that up. That's it's but it's quite old, right? It's it's it's been done by many people all over, all over the world.

Mark: Because it's the return of the light, right? So the festival of lights becomes the time when you have candles and you have things that are striking in colorful because it's dark and it's cold.

And that kind of festive stuff helps us to get through that kind of time.

Yucca: But it also might not be where you are in your own. That's going to be very different and remembering the different hemispheres. So many folks will do the we'll have, depending on which hemisphere and maybe doing the opposite of what's happening in the other images.

Yeah. So we're talking about going into the, the winter solstice, but for everybody in the Southern hemisphere, it's the other way around for them somersaults

Mark: December. Right.

Yucca: And, and there's just going to be so much, that's going to be different about where you are and what's happening there. You may find that there's something really important that you want to mark and recognize that doesn't fall neatly into the.

Solar holidays. There might be something that, you know, the return of the rainy season or whatever it is, or the, you might live in an area where a particular type of tree is the Keystone species for it. And when is that tree blooming or whatever it is that your practice doesn't have to. With what's happening with somebody else and, and it's, it's going to be slightly different.

One of the things I really value that we do mark, is talk about the differences in what's happening in our areas, because we're both in the Northern hemisphere, but we live in very, very different climates. And it's really fun to see how what's happening for you. It seems like often your climate is a couple months ahead of what's happening in Michael's.

Mark: Well, my climate has three things that are very different than yours. Water we're coastal. So we have a lot more water we're and we're a lot more temperate and then there's a lot less and there's a lot less altitude. Yeah. And all of those things make a profound difference in the biosphere. So, yes, I mean, I've had this sort of vision.

As non theist pagans meet one another in person that one of the things that they would sort of compare is what are your holidays? What are they like? You know, what are, how do you celebrate these things? Because I do feel that it's really important for our holidays to reflect the reality of where we are rather than some sort of cookie cutter model of oh well it's February.

So let us cast our seeds out on the snow.

Yucca: No snow for me. That's deep winter. That's a, yeah, no snow, but it's, there might be a little snow, but the snow doesn't last for very long it's but you put anything outside in February. Yeah. The best case scenario, it gets eaten by a hungry animal, but most likely it'll just freeze.

That's it? No, no. Doing 7,000 feet in the middle of February. So, but Hey, back in England, apparently that's a good time to be starting with your fifth year early spring vegetables.

Mark: Right? There is another factor that we need to mention here, which is climate change. You know, it's all of this stuff is a moving target now, so you don't have to be dialed in precise about, okay, well it's the spring Equinox.

And that means that, you know, we're going to, you know, we'll have the festival of the dogwoods. It's okay. If the dog woods don't bloom until four weeks. That's okay. In a given year, right? Because things are fluctuating so much. Now that next year they may bloom six weeks earlier than that. All of that is okay.

You can still have a celebration that uses as its symbols. The interesting things that are happening in the biosphere around you and what those things mean for you metaphorically in terms of your life. And and have that be a working meaningful practice.

So there's a lot to say about rituals in terms of how to structure them in different phases. I've, I've come up with a five step structure that I, I propose for people to use in creating their rituals and. That's not the only one that works by any means. It's just one that will work. So I offer it up to people as an opportunity.

We're going to put the link to that workbook and ritual primmer in the in the podcast notes. So you can download that workbook and see all that stuff for yourself. So we're not going to go into the details about that now, but ritual creation is an art form. It's a highly creative art form. And when you, when you have a ritual that really, really works, it takes you into a different state of mind, very present, very so you're not worrying about extraneous stuff and you're not thinking about the future.

You're just really zoned in, right. They're very focused, very open-hearted and magic can happen in. Really extraordinary experiences can happen in that state both individually or in doing rituals with other people as well. So, I circled way back around to the beginning of this podcast. The important thing is start.

Yeah. Do something small, but start. Yeah.

Yucca: And welcome,

Mark: and welcome. Well, this has been a wonderful conversation as always Yucca. Thank you so much.

Yucca: Thank you, mark. And we will see all of you next week.

Mark: Have a great week, everyone.

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