Wednesday, April 27, 2011


The time is fast approaching when Ali and I and our officiant will start nailing down the details of the wedding ceremony. It's going to be awesome, because (a) it'll be pagan, so rather different from the Christian ceremonies of most weddings, and (b) Alison will be having huge input. The officiant and I will have lots of input too, of course, but Ali has an amazing genius for ritual -- she has a deep understanding of what makes them work, coupled with an artist's intuition.

We've had a bit of a hiccup with our officiant; the one we'd settled on months ago had to back out at the end of March for personal reasons. But it looks like we've found another, one who's excited to be working with us to design our ceremony, and we're going to be in great shape.

In the 5th and 6th centuries BC, about 50 miles northwest of Rome, there was an Etruscan city called Caisra. Caisra, nestled between lush, protective hills and the Tyrrhenian Sea, was quite rich and powerful, and a traditional friend of Rome. It had three ports, and handled a wealth of trade between the Mediterranean sea powers (Greece, Carthage) and the Etruscan towns further inland and in the Po valley. But at the height of its power, it was defeated by the Greeks, and was made to pay tribute. Later, during the wars between Rome and Carthage, it lost its ports and quickly dropped in population and prominence. Today it is only a third of its original size, and the villagers farm on top of their necropolis.

But the name Caisra was borrowed into the Roman language -- Latin -- in the adjective caerimonia, "pertaining to Caere" (the Roman name of the city). Caerimonia was used to refer to rites of divination, and so it has been supposed that the Etruscans of Caisra were known for their ability with prophetic ritual. The old word came into Medeival Latin as ceremonia, and was borrowed into English in the 14th century as cerymonye. The spelling was later standardized as ceremony.

Spiritually ceremony is a word which brings energy, sunlight, and growth into manifestation, and grounds it.

Lillies Among the Lilies

The Lilly kids enjoy an afternoon of drawing and coloring at the Phipps Conservatory Spring Flower Show.

Lillies among the Lilies

Lillies among the Lilies Lillies among the Lilies Lillies among the Lilies

Lillies among the Lilies

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Jumping Off: Cake vs. Pie

Challenge the status quo. Especially in the name of Awesome.

That's pretty much been our motto in planning this wedding so far. (Only four months, three weeks and five days to go!) Sustainably harvested and crafted wood engagement ring: AWESOME. Caterer who provides local, organic food with many delicious vegetarian options: AWESOME. Wedding registry at a nonprofit cooperative camping gear store (oh, wait, I haven't announced that yet! but still): AWESOME.

In light of this clear and evident trend, I would like to put in a word about cake versus pie. We've put my mother in charge of finding and commissioning the wedding cake, since Jeff and I have only so much awesomeness that we can handle at a time. We've talked a little bit with her about the kind of cake we might like. After all, there are some pretty gorgeous ones out there.

Still, if she's reading this, we'd also like to encourage her not to be afraid to aim higher. Why settle for awesome when you can achieve AWESOME? She may want to take into consideration, for instance, this latest scientific research in cake versus pie dessertology:

(Find out more from Hyperbole and a Half)

Strive for excellence, Mom!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


We've been laying down the final plans for the honeymoon (and it's going to be awesome -- I'll have a special post up about it one of these days real soon now), so I thought I'd dig into the origin of the word...

Honey is of uncertain origin, but may go back to a Proto Indo European root something like kanek, meaning "golden". It became khunaga in West Germanic and was probably applied to "honey" at that time. (The word gold comes from a PIE root meaning "yellow / green".) In Old English it became hunig, and honey in Middle English. Spiritually it has qualities of heart and hearth, earthiness, and groundedness, but also high energy.

Moon goes back to Proto Indo European menses or meses, meaning "moon" and "month". This probably is related to the PIE root me, "measure", because the moon was of course associated with measuring time. In most daughter languages of PIE, this root was only retained for "month"; the moon itself got other names (eg selene in Greek, meaning "brightness", luna in Latin from the same root as lux, "light"). The Germanic languages, though, retained the pairing as mænon for "moon" and mænoth for "month". mænon became mona in Old English, and moon in Middle English. During this time it retained is association with time, measurement, and months. Spiritually the word evokes a manifestation of flowing, subconscious energy.

The honeymoon, then, is a month, a season, of flowing, half-conscious sweetness grounded in the heart and earth.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


"Where does the family start? It starts with a young man falling in love with a girl - no superior alternative has yet been found.” -- Winston Churchill

"When a parent gives to a child, both laugh; when a child gives to a parent, both cry." -- Shakespeare (paraphrased)

Family! It's a word that makes some people shudder, and others feel warm inside. But oddly enough, it's a relatively recent concept in English.

Among the Anglo-Saxons, there was no word that meant "family". Most often they used hiwscipe, which meant something closer to "household": it included the husband, wife, children, servants, slaves, pets, animals, buildings, and lands. It was centered unambiguously on the husband, who was legally in charge of it all. In the 1500's, however, the Latin-derived word family (which came from familia, "servants") became widely used to mean everyone in the household. By the 1660's the meaning of family had been changed to referring to primarily those people connected by blood.

Even today, family is a vague term, at its edges. Depending on context, it could refer to the whole human race (the "human family") or to a single pair of unmarried adults (and their dog). At its core, though, is a special notion of intimate kinship between souls that perhaps not even death can sunder.

“Writers will happen in the best of families.” -- Rosa Mae Brown