Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Three Wise Men, Advent, Waiting, and Looking Forward: My Three Wise Goals for the Holiday Season

Full disclosure: this is a tough Yuletide for me.

I usually get into the holiday spirit on Thanksgiving.  The Macy's parade usually does it for me, as they have a Class A Santa in a Top Drawer Sled.  This year, Ben and I were fortunate enough to enjoy the start of the season on a Disney Cruise and in the Magic Kingdom , a trip we'd been saving up for over three years.  THAT usually does it for me (because a Disney Christmas is a thing of beauty), but my Ho-Ho-Holiday Meter barely budged. I looked forward to my annual viewing of  "A Charlie Brown Christmas", only to find that ABC butchered it, removing the snowball throwing, the snowflake tasting, and even Shermie's line, "Every year it's the same.  I'm always a shepherd." Depressing, disappointing, and deflating.

This time of year is usually festooned with parties and dinners, allowing for reconnecting with family and friends, with silly sweaters and wacky gift exchanges, but this year has a lot of changes and challenges:  some family members are needing to sell their home, one family member passed a few months ago, work is slower than it's been all year, Chicago is bracing for its coldest winter since 1904, and then there's my Daddy, who's been in hospice care since mid-May.  When people ask me how he is, I simply say he's "Old Man River": he just keeps rolling along. I treasure the moments when his eyes are open, when he smiles one of his "all the angels are in their rightful places" smiles - because those moments are rare. Mostly, Daddy sits with his eyes closed or sleeps, listens to Big Band music or Me-TV, and is fed slowly and carefully via syringe by his angel-on-Earth caregiver.

And so I wait.  I've been is a state of waiting, of holding my breath, for months now. About Daddy, about work, about so many things.  The ground around me feels shaky. Uncertainty looms around every corner. Waiting, fearing, but very little Looking Forward to anything, as much as I try.  My Gratitude work keeps me connected to Spirit, but just barely.

I started thinking about Advent earlier this week, when a dear friend of mine gave me two Advent calendars, with the little windows and the tiny chocolates.  Although this dear one is basically shut-in because of some extreme medical conditions, she took the time to get these sweet little German Advent calendars for us.  This simple gesture started to crack the ice surrounding my heart. And it made me think about Advent, the four weeks when Christians typically start to look forward and anticipate Christmas, the festival celebrating Jesus's birth.

The Three Wise Men.  The Bible says they followed a star which took them to the Christ child.  They gifted him with rare, luxurious things to honor his divinity. Many theories agree that they were not "Three Kings from the Orient" but rather three astrologers, regal in the authority granted them due to their wisdom and knowledge of the stars. They utilized their knowledge which showed them something incredible was coming; it was written in the stars.

My knowledge of astrology is limited, but this I do know: Mars is in my Sun sign, Aquarius, until January 12.  That covers the entire holiday time frame. And what does Mars do?  Brings energy, vitality, courage and determination to a situation.  Mars is pretty much on Red Bull most of the time.  It's wise to treat Mars gingerly, because all that energy can get to be a bit spazzy. But still, it's more benefic than not.

So where is this going? It's reminding me that I most certainly do have the power within to bravely, powerfully go forth with my life. So, in the spirit of Looking Forward, I promise myself Three Wise Goals, gifts I give myself (that are not material) during this holiday season, which I'll put forth presently to honor MY divinity (Note: even if Mars isn't in your Sun sign, I challenge you to take this on,  See how it might shift you out of a holiday doldrum.). I'm even going to be fancy and name them after the three Wise Men:

My Three Wise Goals for Holiday 2014

1. Gaspar - Once a week, I promise myself a special meditation practice.  I might add unique music, incense, or take the meditation out on the road, meditating in a different location. I'll call this my "Frankincense" gift.

2. Balthasar - Maybe because the word "bath" is embedded in the name, I promise myself one weekly Magickal Bath, set with good intention, infused with deliciously-scented bubbles or salts, with maybe a glass of wine set on the edge of the tub because, you know, Wise Men (and ladies) need a little decadence once in a while. May this be my own personal "Myrrh"

3. Melchior - Of all the Magi's gifts, gold was the most precious.  So will this gift be, because it's about giving back.  Once a week, I shall give a present to someone who might not be expecting it.  Like a total stranger. And may each act be "Gold"en and blessed.

There.  I'm now actually Looking Forward rather than waiting or fearing. I thank God and my angels for enlightening me with this idea, and I hope you give it a try.

Friday, November 28, 2014

A very Carol Burnett Thanksgiving, circa 1970

You say your Thanksgiving weekend wouldn't be complete without a Youtube video from "The Carol Burnett Show" circa 1970, featuring groovy pilgrims, with special guest star Paul Lynde?

You're welcome.

Friday, October 31, 2014

31 Days of Spooktober, Day 31: Happy Halloween, babies!

(Not to be confused with "Happy Halloween Babies", which would look like this:)

Infant Lil Monster Costume

Friends, I wish to thank you for following along this past month, while I posted various actual posts and semi-posts (like, just a photo or a video link), all revolving around the Halloween or Samhain theme.  It was a lot of fun for me, but sometimes daunting to keep to the one-per-day schedule.  Still, in looking back on the month, I'm pretty delighted with what I found, at times darned proud of my "scores".

And speaking of being daunted: what to write about on this, the Big Day, All Hallow's Eve, Samhain, a.k.a. "the Witches' New Year" What came up for me was the question, "What does Halloween mean to me?"

Growing up, it was all about Linus and the Sincere Pumpkin Patch, dressing up in creative, inexpensive costumes, trick or treating a little, but watching a LOT of classic horror films.  Playing the Disney Haunted Mansion album (which I would bring each year, without fail, to school, begging our teachers to allow us to trun down the lights and listen.  We were always thrilled with the chance to give it a spin, yawning in the face of what the "real" meaning of the day was supposed to be for us Lutheran kids: Reformation Day, when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses on the church door.). Having Mom put out the Gurley candles ("Don't burn 'em, Mom!"), hang up the cardboard decorations from the 60s and pour the candy corn into the little ghost-shaped bowl.  Apple cider, pumpkin pie. Listening to Chicago-area ghost hunter Richard Crowe on the radio late, late at night, telling us the story of Resurrection Mary for the umpteenth time - and loving every minute of it.

That was Halloween.  Take a stroll through this month's posts and you'll see I touch upon a lot of these classic holiday activities.  Oh - was almost remiss.  Here's the link to the Disney album, "Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House":

Nowadays, with those icky, plastic pop-up "Halloween Spirit" stores, blood 'n guts costumes and zombie make-up, "haunted houses" you can pay to walk through to view really sickening scenarios that foul, not scary, and adult Halloween costumes that will turn any woman into a streetwalker, I start to wonder where the warmth has gone.  Where's the fun, the social aspect (that doesn't involve lots of alcohol)?  Where's the magic of Halloween?

What I'm starting to learn is this: the magic hasn't gone anywhere.  You just have to know where to look for it (hence, why I fashioned the posts this month that I did). But another aspect of Halloween that I'm now incorporating into my celebration is observing Samhain.  It's New Year's today!  And what an auspicious time (the pagans had it going ON!): the weather is turning, things are darkening and hiding for the winter.  There is a sense of "end of one year, beginning of the next" - even more so than at December 31.

So, this Samhain New Year, I resolve to look for the magick in the stillness that is soon to come, to use the quiet dark time to write, reflect, meditate, and weave positive magick for the good of all.  I thank God for this amazing year of seeking, learning, creating, mourning, and celebrating.

The origins of orange black as traditional Halloween colors date back to the ancient Celts.  Orange stood for the harvest, for the final celebration before the arrival of winter.  Black stood for death, for darkening, for Nature's "closing up shop" for the next several months, for "going within".

May your Halloween and Samhain be filled with celebration and harvesting of life, crativity, and love.  May you be blessed with time for quiet, inner reflection, allowing you to let go of things that have "died off", that are no longer needed or serving your Better Angels. And may you be filled with glee and happiness, like that spooky little monster baby at the top of this post.

Blessings and Peace,

The Mid-Century Mystic

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

31 Days of Spooktober, Day 29: Paul Lynde, Paul Lynde, and MORE Paul Lynde!

Darlings, nothing says Halloween more than Paul Lynde!

What? You don't agree?  Well then, feast your eyes!  Glut your soul on the occlusive awesomeness of "The Paul Lynde Halloween Special" featuring Tim Conway, Florence Henderson and KISS!:

Here's the rare promo for the special:

Still need MORE Paul for the 31st of October?  Look no further!  Here's both parts of the "The House That Uncle Arthur Built" episode of "Bewitched":

Part One:

Part Two:

(Seriously though, Paul Lynde was the best.  Always wanted an uncle like Arthur ...)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

31 Days of Spooktober, Day 27: The Humble Theremin and Day 28: Disturbing Vintage Halloween Card

Ghosties and Ghoulies: our internet connection has been wonky, hence you're receiving two, two, two posts in one today:

Day 27 - So, full disclosure: I am not a musician.  Now, I sing pretty well, but as far as playing an actual, physical instrument, it's been rather a sad and pathetic losing battle.  The casualties include the clarinet I played when I was nine that was abandoned because I really hated having to clean spit out of it.  Mom always wanted me to play guitar so I could accompany myself singing, but there was no way I could get my fingers to form the appropriate chords.  Took piano in college: I can play one song using both hands and it is exceedingly simple.  Then there's the computer drum kit I begged for just ten short years ago; once it arrived, it became exceedingly clear that while I DO have rhythm, I am comparatively inept at having my feet play something different from my hands (a sad discovery, dashing all dreams of being the female version of Stewart Copeland, my drumkit hero).

I can sorta make my way around a Native American flute, but I'm definitely no N. Carlos Nakai. Still, I enjoy tootling around with it as it never fails to calm me through rough times.  But this I do in private.

Yet, I am not daunted.  There is ONE instrument that I have yet to try, but am very interested in attempting and convinced I can tackle it: the humble theremin.

You can learn more about the theramin at this link:

If you saw "The Day the Earth Stood Still", you've heard this ethereal instrument used to its best advantage.  That odd, otherworldly sound in the soundtrack is the humble theremin, a mainstay of science fiction films and old-timey radio and TV productions.

According to the incredibly informative website,, the theremin was invented almost by accident: "The theremin was invented in 1919, by Professor Leon Theremin, also known as Lev Termen. Theremin was a talented Russian Physicist and capable cellist who noticed a strange phenomenon in an electrical circuit he was experimenting with. He noticed that he could change the capacitance of the circuit simply by moving his hand or body towards and away from it. He gradually refined this circuit, added a speaker, added a volume control that worked on the same principles, and the theremin was born."

I'm an Aquarian.  When I read my horoscope, they always remind me how I'm supposed to be this technological wunderkind.  Nothing could be further from my reality.  However, the theremin keeps pulling me in.  Maybe it is my connection to the world of technology, as humble as its brand of technology is.

A friend of mine, a very talented pianist who we employ as an accompanist for our old-time radio troupe, purchased a theremin.  The thrill of the show and tell the day he brought it to a rehearsal for one of our Halloween shows!  He allowed us inquisitive actors each a chance to play it, slowly waving our hands though the current, allowing the electronic squawks and rrrooooowwwrrreeeees to erupt, along with waves of glee from us theremin newbies.  It sparked something in me that has remained unrequited to this day. 

It's got a lot going for it as far as an instrument I feel I can master:

The sound is surreal, and seems like something beyond the veil, which appeals to my esoteric proclivities.  The playing is simple and doesn't require doing something different with one hand than the other - or incorporating your feet with a bass pedal.  There's no spit rag. And you don't suffer fingertip calluses with a theremin.

And, you get to be the coolest kid on the block.


Day 28: Here's your oddball, disturbing, "who killed the various pets of these children and then made them pose for a frickin' postcard?" bit of paper Halloween ephemera for the day, featuring a depressive ghost, Tiny Tim as a child and a dour Eddie Munster:

Scary, sombre Victorian children enjoying the heck out of Halloween

Sunday, October 26, 2014

31 Days of Spooktober, Day 26: Sandra Dee is spooktacular!

Spooky Kiddos, I'm very busy today.  So I give you Sandra Dee (in a scary-fabulous terry cloth swing dress), a cardboard black cat, and a skeleton playing a guitar.

Happy Sunday!