Eclipse

Sunset over  College Creek, at (Gabriel) Archer’s Hope, near Jamestown, Virginia

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Just as light and darkness maintain their own balance, and follow one another; so too do times of darkness and light follow one another in human history. Opposing forces remain in cyclical tension throughout our planet’s history.

We welcome the darkness which allows us to rest each night, and we awake hours later refreshed and reinvigorated. Our bodies heal and re-energize while we sleep.

Plants also need a period of darkness for their growth and cellular repair after many hours of photosynthesis in the sunlight each day. Many plants need a period of dormancy and rest each year, before vigorous new growth responds to the lengthening days of spring.

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Winter Solstice morning

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Northwestern Oregon, where the eclipse over the United States will begin next Monday, symbolizes the farthest point of our continental cultural expansion during the 19th Century. John Jacob Astor established Astoria, Oregon, in 1811, and his team blazed the trail which opened the Northwest to settlement. He led the economic battle to incorporate the Pacific Northwest, and its resources, into the United States. In those days, the borders between the United States and British Canada remained fluid.

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Oregon’s coast, near where the eclipse will begin sliding across North America on August 21, 2017.

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Our nation’s power and prosperity come in large part from our westward expansion to the Pacific, and the rich natural, human and energetic resources of our western states. This part of our country remains energetic, innovative and largely progressive.

Charleston, South Carolina, symbolizes the first shots fired in treasonous rebellion in our Civil War, which began in 1860-61. This terrible time in our nation’s history potentially could have destroyed our republic. But it did not; and the slow and torturous process of re-unification has played out in our courts, congress, statehouses and streets ever since.

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The James River, just a few hundred miles north of where the coming eclipse will move offshore next Monday.

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This is a critical time in our nation’s history once again. The nihilistic forces of nazism, facism, and communism which were pushed back in Europe and Asia during the 20th Century, have infiltrated our own society and American government in the 21st.

We see this with sickening clarity after the election cycle of 2016, when these forces of hatred and anarchy have been publicly emboldened both in the media, and on the ground in cities across our nation.

And only a week after the tragic and disturbing events in Charlottesville last weekend; we will experience the rare astronomical event of a full solar eclipse beginning in Oregon and ending on the coast at Charleston, South Carolina.

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Jones Millpond, where The Battle of Williamsburg raged on May 5, 1862, in the early years of our nation’s Civil War; remains a peaceful spot along the Colonial Parkway in more recent times.

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Many of us wonder what this means for our country. We are disgusted and uncertain with elements of our own government and citizenry. We are deeply troubled about what our nation’s future may hold, and wondering whether the Republic established by our Constitution in 1788 remains sufficient to order our society today.

At this time of uncertainty, we have given much thought to the meaning and potential effects of the coming eclipse. Historically, many cultures have viewed eclipses as important times of vulnerability as the sun disappeared from the sky, and dramatic changes occurred in the aftermath. There could be several interpretations of the phenomena of darkness falling across a huge swath of the United States, from coast to coast, in the middle of a summer afternoon.

We choose to interpret the coming eclipse as a time of national renewal. Beginning in the west, where our country’s economic destiny was determined with the founding of Astoria and securing our border with Canada; and sweeping eastwards across our nation to the very city where our Civil War began; the darkness of this eclipse will be followed by new light.

The emerging sun, Sol Invictus,  will shine brightly over our nation for many hours on Monday, August 21, after the moon moves on in its orbit, allowing the sun’s light to burst forth once again.

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As morning follows night, we choose to focus on the ‘second morning’ that will occur as the eclipse ends on Monday afternoon as a time of national renewal and re invigoration. Let this ‘second morning’ usher in a time when our Constitutional government will be set right once again, and these current threats of tyranny, hatred, and lawlessness ended.

Let foreign intervention in our politics be exposed and expunged. Let nazis and their ideology, influencing our political discourse, be exposed and expunged.

Let the corrupting influence of foreign and criminally laundered money holding our political leaders to nihilistic political ideologies be exposed and expunged. Let the corruption and lawlessness in our own communities be exposed and expunged.

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Let us use this energetically potent period of a summer solar eclipse to power the necessary changes which will re-claim our communities and our state and national governments for our founding principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of the good.

Let us reclaim our heritage as a land of promise and equal protection for all under fair and just laws.

Let our United States fully become a center of innovation and opportunity; tolerance and love; and a haven for the endless positive potential of humankind.

Woodland Gnome 2017

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Powhatan Creek

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Our Golden Companion

June 20, 2016 garden 008

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Celebrate the sun,

The source of all heat, light and life

on Earth;

Our Golden Companion

through all the days of our lives;

The fiery center of our solar system;

Sol Invictus.

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June 17, 2016 Hibiscus 028

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Apollo’s bright chariot;

Atum-Ra in his bark, traversing the sky,

Vanquishing Apopis so the sun might rise again.

Lord Shamash at the gates of the East,

Belenos, whose fires are lit to celebrate

his healing powers,

Helios.

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June 20, 2016 garden 015

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Earth grows green and verdant at your touch,

But burns and withers if you come too close.

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June 20, 2016 garden 010

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Solstice, midsummer; longest day;

The tipping point.

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June 20, 2016 garden 005

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With summer’s sun now in retreat;

Cooling darkness returns

to quench the heat.

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June 20, 2016 garden 011

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Woodland Gnome 2016

Photos taken Summer Solstice 2016, after 8 PM

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June 20, 2016 garden 009

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“Limitless undying love

which shines around me

like a million suns

it calls me on and on across the universe.”
.

John Lennon

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June 25, 2015 orbs 007

Rainbow orb in our garden June 2015

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“We all shine on…

like the moon and the stars and the sun…

we all shine on…come on and on and on…”

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John Lennon

Make a Wreath

Grapevine wreath decorated with Lotus pods, Deodora Cedar cones, moss, and local oyster and clam shells.  Handmade by Woodland Gnome.

Grapevine wreath decorated with Lotus pods, Deodor Cedar cones, moss, and local oyster and clam shells. Handmade by Woodland Gnome.

Do you have a wreath hanging on your front door?

Wreathes are very common in our area.  Almost everyone hangs wreathes during the winter holidays, but many have an assortment of wreathes to hang at different seasons of the year.

Colonial Williamsburg 2009

Colonial Williamsburg 2009

Wreathes date far back into our cultural history, beginning, like so many things, in the ancient Mediterranean world.  We know that in ancient Persia the wealthy and well born wore wreathes on their heads, often made from fabric  or gold, and decorated with precious stones.

The custom in ancient Greece was to make wreathes from Bay Laurel and other plant materials.  These were a symbol of achievement. Winners of athletic contests were honored with a wreath made of laurel.  Musicians, craftsmen, poets, and political leaders were also awarded with laurel wreathes for special achievements.  Many plants had associations with specific gods and goddesses of the Greek pantheon, and so wreathes made from these specific plants were believed to carry the special blessings of that deity.  Apollo was associated with laurel, Dionysus with ivy, and Zeus with oak.

Grapevine wreath decorated with moss, air plants, and a blown glass bluebird.  By Woodland Gnome.

Grapevine wreath decorated with moss, air plants, and a blown glass bluebird. By Woodland Gnome.

Wreathes migrated into Roman culture like so many things Greek, and became important symbols of wealth, achievement and status.  They were also used annually in the celebration of the holiday Saturnalia, which is where so many of our Yule and Christmas customs, such as bringing evergreen trees inside during the winter, originate.  Wreathes were both worn on the head, like a diadem, and also brought into the home as decoration.  Wreathes, and other evergreens, were used during the winter solstice celebrations for decoration inside and out.

Air plants on a grapevine wreath, by Woodland Gnome.

Air plants on a grapevine wreath, by Woodland Gnome.

In fact, wreathes were made and enjoyed in most corners of the ancient world, including China.  The wreath is a universal symbol, whether made from laurel, ivy,  evergreen branches, holly, flowers, fabric, or precious metal.

The wreath was, and is, a symbol of the cyclic nature of our world.  It symbolizes the sun, the turning of the year, and the eternal turning of the planets around the sun.  The return of the sun after winter solstice was an important aspect of Saturnalia, and of the festivities celebrated by followers of the Persian Mithra during Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, or the birthday of the unconquerable sun on December 25 of each year, just after the winter solstice.

The wreath, commonly made with evergreens, is a symbol of eternal life.  It is an assurance that, “life goes on” through good times and bad.  Although individuals come and go, life itself endures.  As the custom of wreath making spread into Europe with the Roman Empire.

Colonial Williamsburg 2009

Colonial Williamsburg 2009

Within the new faith of Christianity, wreathes were adapted to tabletop use for the season of Advent.  Candles were added to the wreath to mark each of the Sundays during Advent, with a candle in the middle for Christmas Day.  Families still make Advent wreathes and enjoy lighting them each night at the dinner table today.  The four outer candles anchor the four points of a cross, or the four cardinal points.  The center candle also symbolizes the central point from which all of creation originates.

Colonial Williamsburg, 2009

Colonial Williamsburg, 2009


Harvest wreathes made with wheat also became common in Europe.  These were symbols of a rich harvest and abundance, and were left up as decoration for much of the year.  In summer, wreathes were often made and decorated with herbs, especially evergreen herbs such as rosemary and bay.

In medieval Europe wreathes were made which symbolized a particular family, to hang on their front door . They were used in place of house numbers to identify the family’s home.  Items were added to wreathes which were in some way symbolic of an individual or family.  These hung year round and were refreshed as needed.

Silk ivy and flowers on a grapevine wreath for Easter, 2011.  By Woodland Gnome

Silk ivy and flowers on a grapevine wreath for Easter, 2011. Notice the nest built by our birds at the top.   Wreath by Woodland Gnome

Wreathes came with the early American colonists to Colonial Virginia.  Williamsburg has a rich tradition of wreath making for Christmas decoration.  Every building in Colonial Williamsburg is decorated with a beautifully hand made wreath.  Although evergreens such as pine, magnolia, cedar, and holly are often used, these unique wreathes are decorated with apples, oranges, peanuts, feathers, cotton, sea shells, nuts and berries, pineapples, and pomegranates.

Colonial Williamsburg 2009

Colonial Williamsburg 2009

They are symbols of abundance and well being.  Wreathes hung on the doors of businesses often include items symbolic of that business, such as pewter cups, pipes, and fabric.  These special wreathes are known as “della Robbia” style wreathes.

Colonial Williamsburg 2009

Colonial Williamsburg 2009

Many residents of Williamsburg, and in all of Virginia, follow this custom at home.  Although many of us still make or buy evergreen wreathes at Christmas, we also make everlasting wreathes with grape vines or straw, and decorate them with fruit, flowers, birds, small toys, shells, nuts, and cones.

This is a lovely custom, and so easy to do.  The wreathes I hung yesterday began as ready made grapevine wreathes purchased at a craft store.  I have made many grapevine wreathes over the years beginning with vines from wild grape and honeysuckle, but these were purchased.  If you have kudzu growing nearby it is also an excellent material for making the basic wreath.

Everything is hot glued onto a grapevine wreath.

Everything is hot glued onto a grapevine wreath.

Everything on  this wreath is hot glued into place.  There are Lotus pods, oyster shells, moss, and Deodora Cedar cones.  When I first made these wreathes a year ago, the lotus pods were too dark and heavy.  I gilded a few to brighten the wreathes and give a more festive look in the weeks before Christmas.  Grape vine makes it easy to tuck items in among the vines.  I could easily add Eucalyptus sprigs, feather, silk roses, or other items by weaving them into the wreath.  Many of the items had come loose by last spring, so I collected everything and stored it over summer.  Yesterday I re-glued and refreshed both wreathes so they are ready for another holiday season.

This finished evergreen wreath is ready to hang.

This finished evergreen wreath is ready to hang.

So if you have a wreath on your door, good for you.  You are welcoming the coming holidays from Thanksgiving through the New Year in festive spirit.  If you haven’t hung your wreath yet, perhaps you’ll consider making your own this year from items which speak to your own interests and sense of beauty.  If you have a garden, you might already have what you need close at hand.  All it takes is your own attention to what is growing nearby, and a little creativity, to craft a beautiful wreath for your own home and family this season.

Colonial Williamsburg 2009

Colonial Williamsburg 2009

All Photos by Woodland Gnome

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