Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Samhain and the Wisdom of Trees

The world is made in love and we have the incredible gift of wonder. - Asia Suler

 © Susan Marie

Samhain, Halloween, Day of the Dead, All Hallows Eve. With the recent new moon, we are in the middle of a powerful time for mystery. This is a time for the Otherworld. 

Samhain, pronounced SOW-in, is an Irish festival marking the end of harvest and the beginning of winter. This is halfway between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice. It is one of the four Irish seasonal festivals, along with Imbolc, Bealtaine and Lughnasadh. Samhain is a time when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld are easily crossed. 

The Otherworld is a parallel plane, a reality that exists right by us every day. It is what shapes consciousness, spirit, and thought; it is where magic occurs and where life exists. The Otherworld is a part of Mother Earth. The old creation myths of the first peoples of this earth still hold true. In the Otherworld, oak tree, deer, human and wind all speak the same language. The tongue of spirit, interconnection and co-creation. - Asia Suler
Call Of The Forest The Forgotten Wisdom Of Trees is a documentary featuring scientist and acclaimed author Diana Beresford-Kroeger. The film follows Diana as she investigates our profound biological and spiritual connection to forests. Her global journey explores the science, folklore, and restoration challenges of this essential Eco-system:  

 Ways to celebrate Samhain: 

Get Out In Nature  Take a meditative walk in a natural area near your home. Observe and contemplate the colors, aromas, sounds, and other sensations of the season. Experience yourself as part of the Circle of Life and reflect on death and rebirth as being an important part of Nature.

Imagery  Decorate your home with seasonal symbols. Place an Autumnal wreath on your front door. Create displays with pumpkins, cornstalks, gourds, acorns, and apples.
Ancestors Altar  Gather photographs, heirlooms, and other mementos of deceased family, friends, and companion creatures. Arrange them on a table, dresser, or other surface, along with several votive candles. Kindle the candles in their memory as you call out their names and express well wishes. Thank them for being part of your life. Sit quietly and pay attention to what you experience.
Ancestor Stories  Learn about family history. Contact one or more older relatives and ask them to share memories of family members. Record them in some way and later write accounts of what they share. Give thanks. Share what you learned and have written with another family member or friend. Add names of those you learned about and wish to honor to your Ancestors Altar.
Cemetery Visit  Visit and tend the gravesite of a loved one at a cemetery. Call to mind memories and consider ways the loved one continues to live on within you. Place an offering there such as fresh flowers, dried herbs, or something special to you and the deceased.
Reflections  Reflect on you and your life over the past year. Review journals, planners, photographs, blogs, and other things you have created. Consider how you have grown, accomplishments, challenges, adventures, travels, and learnings. Meditate. Write about your year in review, your meditation, and your reflections.
Renovate  Select an area of your home or life as a focus. Examine it. Re-organize it. Release what is no longer needed. Create a better pattern. Celebrate renewal and transformation.
Bonfire  Kindle a bonfire outdoors when possible or kindle flames in a fireplace. Write down an outmoded habit that you wish to end and cast it into the flames as you imagine release. Imagine yourself adopting a new, healthier way of being.  

Divinatory Guidance  Using Meditation, Journeying, Tarot, Runes, Scrying, Prayer, or some other method of divination, seek and reflect on guidance for the year to come. Select something appropriate to act upon and do it.
Divine Invocations  Honor and call upon the Divine in one or more Sacred Forms. Invite them to aid you in your remembrance of the Dead and in your understanding of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. If you have lost loved ones in the past year, ask these Divine Ones to comfort and support you.
Transforming Expressions  Help eradicate derogatory stereotyping with courteous, concise, and intelligent communications. 
Community Connections  Connect with others. Exchange ideas, information, and celebration experiences. Regardless of whether you practice solo or with others, as part of your festivities, reflect for a time on being part of the vast network of those around the world.
In Celtic philosophy, it is said that the separation between this world and the Otherworld is as thin as a veil. All we have to do is peer between the weave and a whole new aspect of reality will reveal itself to us. Known as the realm of the ancestors and the way beyond death, the Otherworld is a place of deep and life-changing knowledge. A place of mysticism, connection and consciousness-- connecting into the Otherworld can bring untold magic into our lives. 
– Asia Suler 

Blessed be.

 © Susan Marie

Please visit > One Willow Apothecaries  < to connect with Asia Suler 
and > Call of the Forest < to educate yourself on the wisdom of trees. 

 Samhain Celebrations © Circle Sanctuary


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Looking Backward and News From Nowhere : Studies in Utopian Literature

William Morris on Looking Backward 

     In William Morris’ review of Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy’s novel on Utopia, Morris focuses on Socialism, the political and economic system where social organization believes that the community as a whole must control production and exchange of goods and services. Although Morris does indeed recognize the romantic aspects in Looking Backward, he also touches on the importance of the novel, the hopefulness for change apparent regarding the popularity and sales of the book. Morris views Bellamy’s work as a wake-up call for humankind. 


     The central thesis of Morris in regards to Bellamy refers to socialists and non-socialists. Fictionalized as written in the year 2000, Looking Backward describes states of society after a period of evolution, a time of peace, when people began to realize that Socialism is only at its birth. Those that adhere to strict political parties recognize this; the public may not, thus setting a stage for the birth of a new system, often filled with strife. Morris brings up valid points in the dangers associated with Bellamy’s work, “It requires notice all the more because there is a certain danger in such books as this: a twofold danger; for there will be some temperaments to whom the answer given to the question ‘How shall we live then?” - Morris, Looking Backward, Commonweal.


     William continues to describe the dangers as pleasing and non-pleasing, meaning there will be those that will accept this book and its ideals as absolute fact even with errors and unrealistic suggestions and those that will inquire, including young Socialists, who will also accept the text as fact, yet question existence as a whole without hope. Morris suggests that when reading utopia, one must consider the author, their experiences, ideals, temperament and expression. An example of this is in regards to Bellamy’s style of writing. 


      In Looking Backward, the author constructed the book to speak to thousands of people; however, his temperament is one that is not modern, historic or artistic. This style suggests a semi change, or incomplete view of society. Bellamy proposes a world in which injustice, misery, and classes no longer exist and that ideal utopia is that of an industrious one only. Morris brings forth the ultimate debate. Can humankind overturn the machinery that controls society? 


     Morris continues to relay his dissatisfaction with the focus of Looking Backward, meaning the point of change being that of industry and machinery. The focus on freedom, art, nature, respect and appreciation for the natural order of things is missing, “A far better hope to trust to is that men having once got it into their leads that true life implies free and equal life, and that is now possible of attainment, they will consciously strive for its attainment at any cost.”- Morris, Looking Backward, Commonweal. 


     Morris believes that Bellamy, in regards to his book, overlooks that when any peaceful cataclysmic change occurs the organization of life must be forefront. In Looking Backward, Bellamy does not provide a peaceful scheme, more a vengeful change bordering on Communism and Nationalism. This statement made by Morris relates to Bellamy’s proposal that every man is free to choose an occupation and work is not burdensome, yet strict massive armies are created based upon production to satisfy everyone no matter the cost, waste or outcome.  Morris concludes that Bellamy’s worldview is short sighted and his focus only relates to his own environment and not the entire world. 


     The central ideas in William Morris’ review of Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy are related directly to the book’s themes on utopia. Morris wrote his own book two years later, News From Nowhere, as a direct response to Bellamy’s work. Bellamy created a novel about transportation from the nineteenth century to the twenty first century. Julian West, the main character, or narrator, born into an aristocratic family, delves into financial class systems between the rich and poor, prevalent in the nineteenth century. West was considered above the rest of society due to his financial standing. The book begins with Julian’s awakening, one where he was asleep in suspended animation for over one hundred years.

     In Looking Backward, Bellamy examines variances in centuries focusing on themes of finance, societal standing and production. Metaphorically, the author describes how people allow themselves to be dragged within the confines of society similar to a traveling coach by stating, “Humanity is harnessed along hilly and sandy roads.” - Bellamy, Looking Backward

     In addition, people did not choose the way they lived, their careers, how labor and production was controlled. They simply followed what society required them to do. The author makes sure to exhibit the importance of delusion regarding finance by explaining that oftentimes the poor think that what the rich have is better.  Bellamy saw this delusion as mass hallucination and witnessed this in people that became prey to financial class and status.

      When referring to Morris’ review, it is plain to see in Bellamy’s work that Morris is correct in stating that Bellamy’s utopia falls short of the natural order of things. Bellamy does focus intently on societal structure, financial class and status, disregarding nature, the arts, and communication. In Chapter V of “Looking Forward, the first political themes are addressed between Julian and Dr. Leete, a twentieth century representative who discovered Julian after his “awakening.” The industrial change, “The Great Trust”, is a nationalistic viewpoint, meaning all capitol of the nation was consolidated and controlled by one group. Although there were no wars or public enemies, the people no longer had freedom or control over production or their lives. 

     Morris refers to Bellamy’s temperament in his review of Looking Backward as a reason for various themes in the book. In regards to Bellamy himself, not the author, both grandfather and father were ministers yet had to leave their chosen fields due to “unorthodox” positions each held regarding the Calvinist faith. This in turn pushed Bellamy towards a disdain for dogma. Bellamy felt religion did not properly address the needs of humanity and unsuitable living conditions on earth with a leap of faith in an afterlife full of rewards. 

     Bellamy’s issues with the human condition began early which is why he focused on a career advocating for reform. He attempted various careers with success, however, a journalist and writer proved to be most fulfilling. Bellamy’s own life experience does not compare with the ideals he presents in his novel, Looking Backward. Bellamy was able to choose his career and change it if he did not find pleasure. In his own fictional utopia, the nation controls these choices for the people. It is here where Morris is correct in stating that the temperament of the author must be considered when reading, Looking Backward

     In conclusion, both Bellamy and Morris present utopian worlds that speak to different groups of people, a socialist viewpoint and a nationalist viewpoint. Bellamy’s purpose for Looking Backward was to inform nineteenth century society about the pitfalls of society with a focus on industry while Morris decided to focus on choice and autonomy. Both novels are about social reform, justice and economic fulfillment, however, Morris is the only one to address pleasure and the natural order of existence. It is in this vein that Morris succeeds in reaching a utopia where more people will find happiness. While Bellamy is brilliant in introducing the book to a fictional twentieth century audience as if it were a historical frame of reference, Morris goes further and suggests that along with social reform, personal reform is paramount.

Works Cited

     Morris, William. Looking Backward, Commonweal. Vol 5, No. 180, 22 June 1889, p.194-195. The William Morris Internet Archive: Journalism. https://www.marxists.org/archive/morris/works/articles.htm
     Bellamy, Edward. Looking Backward. 2000-1887. Signet Classics. 2009. Print.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Interview with a Poet: South Florida Poetry Journal

 Here is my Interview with a Poet in the October edition of the South Florida Poetry Journal. 

Thank you to Lenny DellaRocca. 

Please visit them on Facebook HERE

You can read the interviews HERE 

Susan Marie
Picture 1. Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?

I have no writing routine whatsoever.  I write when the words strike, when that divine stream of consciousness flows freely or if I stop and tune in, on purpose, to my creative self. 

2. Are you a poet because you write poetry, or do you write poetry because you are a poet?

The poems write me.

3. Have you ever written poetry while listening to music? If so, what artist were you listening to? What was the poem? (If you remember)

Yes! Hendrix is a fantastic inspiration. Most of the artists from the 60's and 70's, depends on the tune, inspire me while writing. That music is an immense part of who I am. I do not recall writing anything specific or having a certain artist. I just pop on the tunes and go.

4. Please write the last line for a poem titled:
“Strawberries for a Mango Kind of Girl”

like the sun, pregnant and full, dragging her belly across a dying dawn.

5. What book (poetry or otherwise) are you currently reading. What book is next?

Not specifically poetry, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom [Anam Cara means "soul friend" in Irish] by John O' Donohue, which does include divine Celtic poetry.  Next? Hmmm .  .  .  I am torn between Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala and Dances with Wolves by Michael Blake.

Susan Marie is a Spoken Word Poet, Writer, Author, and Broadcast Journalist. 


Monday, October 23, 2017

The City of the Sun: Exploration in Utopian Literature

     The City of the Sun, by Tommaso Campanella, is an essential early utopian political, religious, philosophical and prose dialogue written after the author’s imprisonment during the Inquisition for heresy and free speech in 1602. Inspired by Plato’s Republic, The City of the Sun is a conversation between a grandmaster of the knights and a sea captain. Campanella, of the Dominican Order, was educated in medieval fashions. Logic and revelation defined the pathway to truth, yet Campanella revolted against absolutes. The City of the Sun signifies a shift in thought from old to new in direct relation to the suffering the author experienced due to his religious and political ideals. This utopian work means to reflect an order where freethinking individuals can flourish, a theocratic society, where goods, services, women, and children are equal.

     The story begins when the grandmaster questions the captain and the captain speaks of “the City of the Sun”, a utopian state from whence he came. The first dystopian themes appear when the captain states, “I came upon a large crowd of men and armed women.” (Campanella, The City of the Sun).  Secondly, when the sailor describes the city, he reiterates how secure it is. “. . . so that he who wishes to capture that city must, as it were, storm it seven times” and continues with “ . . . I think that not even the first wall could be occupied, so thick are the earthworks and so well fortified is it with breastworks, towers, guns, and ditches.” (Campanella, The City of the Sun).  

     Utopia signifies ideal perfection, a society that incorporates social improvement and political perfection where equality and peace exist, a community that embodies simple states of happiness and fulfillment. Yet the captain describes to the grandmaster a dystopian world, one where people are armed. The fashion the city is built describes a modern day military complex. This “utopian” city is not a welcoming place. One must bombard it in order to enter much like current oppressive societies, war, and revolution. 

     Furthermore, a main ruler, as well as various rulers for diverse subjects, is in place in this “supposed” utopian city, “The great ruler among them is a priest whom they call by the name Hoh, though we should call him Metaphysic. He is head over all, in temporal and spiritual matters, and all business and lawsuits are settled by him, as the supreme authority.” (Campanella, The City of the Sun). The captain continues to relate to the grandmaster how the ruler, Hoh, is responsible for all matters relating to war and the military arts, attending to all aspects of ruling in a “warlike” nature. There are soldiers, munitions, military planning, and armories. There is mention of hate towards a sordid legislator under Hoh.

     While love claims to be the foremost ruler in charge of this city and race of people, everything regarding breeding, marriage, education of children, medicine, agriculture, food, clothing, and sexual intercourse requires governing. In addition, along with Hoh, three separate rulers are responsible for the crux of decisions that affect this community. “Metaphysic, then, with these three rulers, manages all the above-named matters, and even by himself alone nothing is done; all business is discharged by the four together . . .” (Campanella, The City of the Sun).

     This “City of the Sun” is far more dystopian in nature than utopian. This not only mimics our current state of government, but of an even further “right” and “left” government that we currently do not have. This city replicates a combination of medieval society with a strictly political and religious governing body. Equality is not mentioned, only rulers, ruling, and supreme decisions made by four people, not by the citizens, of the people, for the people and by the people, but by four people. Considering the publication of The City of the Sun, 1602, during the Inquisition, it is understandable how the current state of the world was desirable, however, from the perspective of 2017, this “utopia” is far too close, if not worse, than what exists. 

Works Cited
     Campanella, Tommaso. The City of the Sun. 1602. EBook release 2009. Last updated 2013. (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2816/2816-h/2816-h.htm).