THE WONDER explores perspectives, rituals, and observances of modern, naturalistic, Earth-revering Neopagan religious paths. Naturalistic Pagans embrace the world as understood by science (that is, without gods, magic, or the supernatural), and enhance our lives with myth, ritual and activism. Hosted by Mark Green (author of ATHEOPAGANISM: An Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science) and Yucca (formerly of The Pagan Perspective YouTube channel, and of the Magic and Mundane channel). Named #3 in the top 20 Pagan podcasts for 2023! https://blog.feedspot.com/pagan_podcasts/
Monday Sep 27, 2021
Monday Sep 27, 2021
Monday Sep 27, 2021
Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com
Mark: Welcome back to The Wonder: Science-based paganism. I'm Mark, your host.
Yucca: And I'm Yucca.
Mark: And today we're going to talk about neat stuff about autumn things. You can do things you can add to the. The environment of your home things you can make just generally sort of a grab bag of, of autumn goodies.
Yucca: And some of them edible, some of them delicious and just fun and, and general autumn and also maybe some specific, some climate specific autumn things.
Yes. So that's what today's episode will be about. But before we jump into that, we want to remind people that next may there is going to be an in-person gathering in Colorado Springs, Colorado called the Sentry retreat. We're inviting non theist, pagans, atheist, pagans, folks that are curious or interested in those paths to come and join us and be with us for three days.
Rituals and workshops and socializing and fun and dancing and all that kind of stuff. And we're really hoping that people will get their registrations in as quickly as possible so that we know how many people to prepare for may sounds like a long way away, but Hey, face it. It's almost October.
Mark: It's it's not that far away anymore. So we will put a link in the in the episode notes where you can go and register and get all of the information about this it's from the 13th, Friday, the 13th of May through the 16th. And it's just going to be a really wonderful time. So, we, we hope that you'll come and join us and take part in part of the fun.
We'll be providing information to people about Doing carbon credits to offset their travel impact which is not super expensive. It turns out which is great. And overall, we're going to do our best to make this an event that is. As consistent with the atheopagan principles as possible and as responsible to the earth as a part of that as it can possibly be.
So please click that link, go take a look. And we really hope that you'll join us.
Yucca: Yeah, we are just so excited to be able to invite you. And it's, you know, the, the more, the closer we're getting to it, the more exciting it's becoming as so many different things are starting to shape up. And you know, it's just becoming real and it will be. I think it should be amazing. It's, it's a beautiful, beautiful part of the world.
And there's a lot of different options in terms of the, the accommodations, right? You could bring a tent and do that if you'd like, and it's beautiful Ponderosa woods but there's also different cabins setups and you can do more or less private and all of that. So all of those options that will be in the link.
Mark: Right. So that is that. And if you're, if you're not there, you're missing out. I, because we, we intend to have too much fun.
Yucca: and we, and we tried to make it somewhere that would be central to many folks. We know that there are. Atheopagan is a non theist pagans all over the world. But we were trying to find somewhere that would hopefully be accessible to many different people. So, and maybe one day in the future, it'd be fun to do it.
And you know, another hemisphere and other continent.
Mark: Yes. And actually there, there has been some talk amongst folks in Europe about doing some kind of a gathering around the same time. I don't know how far that's gone, but I think that would be a really cool thing to do. So there's that. And now let's talk about the autumn season and all of the cool things about it and things that we can do to make our homes ready for it, to exercise our creativity all that good kind of stuff.
Yucca: Right. And so we just had the Equinox and. One of the things we talk about a lot is how different different places are right. Just from dear to year, but also from simply where you are, where a few hundred miles or a few hundred kilometers over one way might be completely different. And so. There's some things that we classically think of as being fall or otomy, and then there's things that are really unique to your specific place, your biological community.
And I think we'll kind of get into some of, both of those.
Mark: Yeah. Yeah. For example although some migratory animals, mostly birds have already. Taken off to head for places that are more comfortable for them for the winter or taken off to head back. Back to where the, they do their nesting during the summer, if, depending on which hemisphere you're in a lot of them are right now gathering up as much in the way of fat and accumulated calories as they possibly can in order to meet those.
voyages so that they don't starve on the way.
I don't know whether folks are aware of this or not, but migratory birds can lose two thirds of their weight while their migraine.
Yucca: Think about what they're doing. It's, it's really amazing to think about a little creature and the incredible distances that they're traveling.
Mark: Yes. Yes. And they're doing that by flapping their wings over and over and over again, to keep themselves suspended in the air against gravity, which is just awe inspiring. When you think about it, the fact that we have so many thousands of kinds of creatures that have all made this adaptation and are able to make it work, it's just extraordinary. So one thing that you can do at this time of year is you can put out bird feeders and wildlife feeders, and you need to be very careful that the kinds of feed that you use are actually of use. So it's kind of like the old thing that I'm sure that you've heard that you shouldn't throw bread to ducks, right?
Because bread actually Gunks up their digestive systems and doesn't provide them with a lot of nourishment. We have a wild birds unlimited store in my town
Yucca: too. Yeah, they have
Mark: is that they, they really do and everything from, you know, great feeders and, and really high quality feed, but also like spotting scopes and all that kind of stuff.
Everything for people that are birders and. So we just put up some bird feeders recently, one with sugar, water for hummingbirds, and one with sunflower pieces bits of sunflower seeds for other kinds of birds.
Yucca: And speaking of, oh, I'm sorry. Continue.
Mark: oh, go ahead.
Yucca: I was going to say, speaking of hummingbirds, there's a myth that you need to take the hummingbird feeders down to encourage the hummingbirds to. Go on their migration and this is not true. They will, they will go when they are ready to go. So you can keep those hummingbird feeders up and let them go ahead and drink and get that, that the nourishment that they need and they'll leave when they need to.
So you don't need to stress about feeling guilty that you're preventing them from migrating. So, yeah.
Mark: Good. Thank you. So, Since these feeders up, of course, we have had a lot more visits from wildlife. We, we have a kind of really active sort of. Somewhat competitive community outside that are kind of wrestling over who gets access to the food. And so that's a wonderful opportunity for me to learn more about identifying birds and which species we have here locally and at this time of year and all of that works really well.
For us as well. But the main thing is that I just get a good feeling about having provided this resource to these animals that we've taken over so much of their habitat. It, it really feels like kind of paying back a little bit
Yucca: Yeah. Yeah.
Mark: And Yucca, you were saying also that that you do feeding for other wildlife other than birds.
Yucca: We do. Yeah. So we are in a rural setting. And so the, the part of the county I'm in you can't have, you know, 40 acre. You can have one, one home per 40 acres, right. So it's pretty spread out and it's, it's a much less dense than that typically. So we have lots of. We have all kinds of animals here.
We've got the big ones and we've got the little ones, but now that we're here full time, they've figured that out too. So we feed a lot of different different animals and you know, I've done my research to see what is healthy and what isn't. And so we put things out for our, our little mammal friends.
We've got lots of chipmunks and squirrels and rabbits and things like that. And then we have many different kinds of birds who come to the feeders as well. So we'll do ground feeders and tree as well. And the most important one actually is. Right. So even if you're worried about, oh, I don't want to give the animals something that, you know, might be bad for them.
Like corn is a really tricky one because there's some animals that it's just fine for. And others it's really, really bad for sunflowers. Typically are pretty safe in general, if you get your, your black oil, sunflower seeds or something, but the water, everybody needs the water. And as long as you're keeping that clean, and that's really important with all your, your feeders, cause you don't want to be spring.
Right. The last thing you want to be doing is spreading diseases and hurting them. But if you're keeping that clean and sanitary, that you can bring a lot of, of creatures. And for us, we just get so much joy from it and we've got some windows we can see through and we have the bird book sitting right there so we can go through and I've, and I've lived here in this area, my whole life.
Right. And that have been tuned into. What animals, but I'm finding new, new birds that like, oh, I didn't know he had those. And what's that, that kind of looks like a Robin, but it's not, or what's that one with the Mohawk. And so it's just been so much fun. The other consideration though, that one needs to always make is when you are feeding smaller prey animals.
That does attract their predators too. So we just want to be mindful about, okay, if will, if you're setting up a theater, are you making it really easy for those animals to get eaten? Or can you put it somewhere that won't make it quite so easier? That sort of thing?
Mark: That's why bird feeders are usually suspended in hanging because the kinds of animals that are likely to go after them, like cats and coyotes and so forth, they, they can't get up to those Heights foxes the same,
Yucca: Although you do have certain species that just won't visit those. So if you want to have those species comes, then you want to put it out in the open and you can make considerations for that. Yeah. And as we move into the colder weather you know, it can be more and more important.
For the animals. And again, we're not trying to replace their wild diets, but just kinda give them a little, a little assistance. Right, right. We've built our home where they would have been living and we've put our roads in. And so, you know, we can give a little bit back.
exactly. So that's a cool thing that you can do, and it's a way that you can become better acquainted with what's going on in your local environment. And it's it can be a great addition to your non theists pagan practice. Why don't we talk about the human environment now? Because I think it's true.
It's it's sort of like children, you, you love all your children, but maybe there's one that just gives you particular delight. The same thing is true of our holidays. We love all our holidays, but there's something very special about autumn and Hallows, so, and Halloween and all of that kind of poopy creepy.
Mortality reminding drawing down time feel of, of the season, whether it's, you know, the smell of piled leaves or the the, the smell of smoke, hopefully from, you know, hopefully from somebody's a woodstove rather than from a forest fire, which is what we're afraid of around here.
Yucca: No, those are distinctive smells.
Mark: They are.
Yucca: really is. Right. You know, it's very that we do campfires and we've all, all of them here. You could wildfire woodstove campfire, but even the same wood, it smells different in the different contexts.
Mark: Well, I think it's that there's other stuff mixed in with a wildfire.
Mark: You know, It's not just wood, it's also, you know, aromatic or basis bushes and things like that. That,
Yucca: the lichens and the mosses and the rocks being heated up to absurd temperatures and all of that.
Mark: And if you're in California, the houses and the insulation and the pipes and the electrical wiring and all of people's possessions, which is awful, but that's what we're confronting now. So Yes.
they do smell differently and I will be the first to admit that around here, where I live, we're just getting a little gun shy about the smell of smoke generally.
Yucca: last few years. Yeah.
Mark: It's, it's been pretty intense. So. But that wonderful kind of faint smell of smoke in the air and the smell of rotting leaves, which are, are falling the, the beautiful foliage in, especially in some parts of the country, but everywhere, I think, you know, okay. I want everyone everywhere Has something, you know, special?
and unique that's happening around this time of year.
And if. It's just, it's, it's kind of an emotional time of year and I'm not sure entirely why, but there's just this sort of melancholic beauty to the drawing down of the season into, into its dormant phase. And I like to go for walks in cemeteries and collect. Leaves that have turned into gold or, or red or, and stuff like that.
It's just, it's all very enjoyable part of the year for me that an eating, everything that has pumpkin spice in it.
Yucca: Yes. Well, huge pumpkin fans over here. That's one of those things that I think should be. All the time food, I mean, it's, it's a half a year, right? Because pumpkins, we, we bred them to last really long
Yucca: usually by. Okay by about may is about the time that the sun tree retreat should be happening.
That's about when the last of our winter squashes are running out. Right. That's how long, the last, but yeah, everything the pumpkin. And then you add in all of those wonderful spices, right? The clove and everything nutmeg related.
Mark: and cinnamon
Mark: all those good things. Yeah.
Delicious. I went to trader Joe's last week and they had a pumpkin section. It was just everything flavored with pumpkin and, and throughout the store.
Mark: ridiculous quantities of stuff made with pumpkin's flavored with pumpkin's. I'd never seen anything like that in previous years, they really went overboard this year.
Yucca: Yeah. There's I think there's a lot of things pumpkin's work with, but maybe not everything. They do that with bacon too. They make bacon flavored everything. I'm like, I'm not sure I want bacon flavored ice cream. Thank you.
Mark: Yeah, I don't. I,
Yucca: pumpkin spice, ice cream, that
Mark: Oh, that's good. I've had that. I've had that. it's good. Especially the super creamy type, like gelato. Really, really nice. So uh,
Yucca: all of the, your pumpkin and Gord related kind of crafts. We were joking about how difficult it actually is to carve turnips. If you're going to do that, you might want to put your your Kevlar gloves on to do that.
Mark: Yeah, you could really do damage to yourself. Turnips are very hard and you can cut yourself a lot, trying to hollow out a turn I've been and make a traditional Welsh jack-o-lantern out of it. It, and, and at the end, what you have is kind of an ugly look and turn up with a face.
Yucca: Yeah, that you just can't cut him to them as nicely as the pumpkin's that we've bred specifically for that purpose, but there are larger turnips or turnip related routes like the rutabaga or rote rutabaga, which are like a better option. If you want something larger to work with. And then after, after a day or two, though, once you've cut into them, you definitely want to throw it into the soup because they're not going to last for very long.
Mark: Yeah. There's that too.
Mark: Yeah, The the other thing about pumpkin's that we've bred them for is not only to be to, to last for a long time, but they've got that tough skin on the outside that keeps them from deep hydrating quickly and turning into mush, which once they start to do they do in a hurry.
But you know, you
Yucca: start dripping. You got to put a plate underneath them. Yeah,
Mark: Yeah, you can, but you can carve a pumpkin and it'll sit for two weeks. And in pretty good shape, depending on the temperature where you are, of course.
Yucca: sure. And how much it directs on or not, or all of that.
Mark: And whether a raccoon comes by and eats half of it.
Yucca: Well, and the other plants, again, depending on your area, the real big sunflowers that folks grow in their gardens. Those are, those heads are drying right now. And those are just amazing to take and hang up. And, and then actually later on, that's a great one to put out for the birds in the winter, right?
Hang that dried from the tree, or if you have chickens and loves that, right. And just let them pick it out at it. There's something so satisfying about seeing the bird attached to the head of the giant sunflower, just pulling and picking through what does it want and passing the ones that doesn't want on the ground and then, you know, fighting with the other bird that comes by because they're very they're very drama, filled, little creatures.
yes, all that wonderful gourd art. And now that's not only with pumpkins. I mean, Bottle gourds are also that the dried bottle gourds, and you can use like a keyhole saw or a little tiny hand jig saw to cut holes in them or you can make them into rattles And shakers, which are great for ceremonies.
Great for. Accompanying percussion drumming. You can, you can dance with them. There's a lot of cool stuff that you can do with a gourd rattle.
Yucca: And even just leaving them plain. Right? Not cutting into them. They're just amazingly beautiful shapes and colors and sizes.
Mark: for sure. If you decide that you want to make a a gourd rattle. The easiest way to do that is just to dry the bottle gourd until you can hear the seeds rattling around inside, and there's your rattle, that's easy, but if you decide you want a sharper or louder sound dried, corn works really well.
You know, you cut the top off and put in the dry, take out the seeds, put in the dried corn. And what's good about that is that if there's any extraneous moisture, it'll absorb it and then slowly sublimated and your, your rattle will last and you can seal that hole with wax or you know, put a little plug of.
The material that you took out into there and then seal it around with wax. And it works really well. If you want a really soft sort of oceany kind of sound sand works really nicely
Mark: makes it really sort of sh sh sh sh kind of sound. That's a very pleasant.
Mark: I say this as someone who once planted bottle gourd.
And then for a five-year period had more bottle gourds than I could possibly do anything with because they see themselves and then they just come back and they come back and they come back and every year they produce more.
Yucca: Pretty good plant to have, frankly, if you're going to have a plant that's taking over your yard, then that's a fun one.
Mark: It is.
Mark: And the. The seeds are quite tasty. You can do the same things with them that you do with pumpkin seeds. You can roast them. I like to roast them with soy sauce gives it a sort of a umami and salt flavor to go along with the fat and crunch of the seeds. And that's another autumn thing you can do.
After, after carving the pumpkins or doing whatever you do with the gourds, you can make those, those delicious seeds.
Yucca: Now with the plants, this would be spring or early summer activity, but the flowers depending on the particular variety, you can also stuff and fry those and those are really good.
Mark: Oh, squash, blossoms. Yeah. Yeah, they're good.
Mark: That's a very Southwestern.
Yucca: I suppose it must be.
Mark: I think it's a Mexican thing. Actually. I think it started out as a Mexican thing, but it's become characteristic of the Southwest
Yucca: well, this is New Mexico, so there's a lot of, you know, the Europeans have been here hundreds of years, so there's a lot of overlap between the areas. So,
Mark: for sure.
Yucca: So in the home, right. We've been talking about kind of the crafts and the sorts of things, but there's also the, some of the shift and just the types of colors that we can have, or the smells, especially in the kitchen.
If you're making some of those, you know, delicious sort of spiced foods. So having the smell of cinnamon and clove and things like that in the house. And if you have like one of those oil diffusers, That you can just put on and kind of have that smell is I think that's a, this is really special because we forget about smell and touch and things like that as senses, because we're so focused on vision, which makes sense.
We're, we're very visually dominated, but vision and sound, but also all of the rest of that. Influences the way we feel day-to-day and how to makes it adds to that specialness, that exciting feeling of the autumn.
Mark: Yeah. And I think that there are, there are symbolic things that we can put around as well. Even before we get to the real Halloween season, when it's your spiders and spiderwebs and skeletons and skulls and and all the, you know, and gruesome monsters, if that's the direction that you go, I'm not so much in the gruesome monster. Direction as I am just,
Yucca: I like skulls though.
Mark: oh yeah. I liked the, I liked the momentum Maury stuff. The, the remember you're going to die and we're all mortal stuff for this time of season. It is really important to me, but in my experience, the scariest monsters are humans and. You know, the rest of the stuff out of fiction is not just doesn't really scare me very much.
Mark: not, not very not very interesting,
Yucca: But you were saying before we get to that, that stage of the fall, the out of the end of autumn,
Yucca: this early autumn.
Mark: And there's that color palette, you know, the rust color and the, you know, black and rust and maybe a dark gold, all the sort of autumnal palette that we can use to decorate our house and make it feel as though it's prepped for the season. I, I know that a lot of people use cinnamon brooms at this time of year which are I mean, originally I think the cinnamon brooms were actually made out of cinnamon trees, but now they're just sort of brushed brooms that have been dipped in cinnamon oil.
And, you know, you wave one of those through the air and it makes a gorgeous smell. To kind of feel your house for a long time. And they can be quite strong. So you may want to actually store it outside and just wave it around inside once in a while. If like,
Yucca: if you have pets in the home that they may be much more sensitive than, than humans are, right? Like your cat or dog.
Mark: very true. Very true. The other thing that's coming and we'll talk about this as we as we get closer to, to Hallows, to Solen is that the days are, are shortening now and it's evident Where I am. It was dark at seven 30 last night. And that's a, that's a long swing from the, you know, nine 20 at night that it was back at the summer solstice.
So, it, it's a really good time to actually go out and watch the sky. The, for one thing, And I've never entirely understood why this is autumn. Sunsets tend to be really spectacular
Mark: and it may, maybe it's just the weather patterns where I happen to live, but they seem to last longer and they're very, very colorful.
And so if you don't already have a practice of going out to watch the sunset, you might want to take some time. In the next couple of weeks to do that a few times and really enjoy what the sky has to offer.
Yucca: Yeah, well, they, they should actually be longer. It's independent of the weather, just because longer than they would be in summer because of the tilt of the earth. Right? So your sunset is going to be you're, you're getting those beautiful colors because of the angle that the light is traveling through it.
Mark: Yeah, but, but I don't, I don't think of winter sunsets as being. So much longer, it seems like a bigger jump for some reason. And I'm sure I'm sure that this is just my perception that it's not really true, but it just seems like there's a big downshift that happens from the summer into the autumn, with the length of the, of the sunset.
Yucca: less comfortable standing outside for the winter? Sunsets?
Mark: Depends on what the days are. Like. We have 70 degree days here in the wintertime
Yucca: Okay. Yeah, but, but many places, those autumn sunsets, and I've heard that, I certainly noticed them here. They're very different here, depending on the time of the year. We, we always have really beautiful sunsets. Although monsoon seemed to be the most. Spectacular ones. And I think that's the way that the light is hitting off of the just huge clouds and all of that.
But the, I mean, there's just always a very different quality depending on the time of year. And right now Jupiter and Saturn are both really, really prominent in right after sunset in the Southern sky. Even if you're in a. You're going to be able to see them. Right. They're so bright.
Mark: Oh, super bright
Yucca: yeah. So you look out after sunset to the south and you're going to see a bright, what looks like star that's Jupiter.
Right. Even if you're in say Manhattan, as long as you can actually see over the buildings. So maybe not even from the top of the building, but yeah. So. So there's that outside component. And if you, if you can do, if it's safe to do a little fire where you are, or maybe even just bringing a little candle out, right.
Having a little candle and have that on your little table as you watch the sunset and the transition to the evening. And if you can, if you've got the time staying out, we're moving in for the, the. Northern hemisphere. We're going to be moving into a time where we can see the Milky way in the evenings really beautifully.
And so you should, depending on where you, where you are in terms of light pollution, you should be able to see it all year, but it just depends on what, how, how late you want to stay up or how early you want to get up.
Yucca: Yeah. Yeah.
Mark: So I guess the kind of. The summary of this is embrace the season. This is this is a particularly witchy time. It's a time that we kind of wait for we in the pagan community. We wait around for it all year. It's a time when the when the, the symbols and the aesthetic that are promoted in the mainstream culture. Come more into alignment with the sorts of aesthetic that which he pagans use with our bones and skulls and spiderwebs. And. Just cool, spooky, a cultish sort of stuff. Plus of course, all of the natural stuff, the beautiful leaves, the beautiful sunsets the kinds of things that we really appreciate.
Oh boy, it's a big acorn year here. It ate acorns or not Acorns our, what they call mate producers. Which are, which means that they don't produce a crop of acorns every year. Oaks Oaks will only produce all that fat. if they've got enough starch accumulated in their roots at the time that they need to start producing acorns for them.
to make a batch.
And this is a huge year, they're everywhere. It's, it's really remarkable. I, I I've been surprised because. The because we're in a drought, but it may be that that stress on the plant is encouraging it to create more reproduction.
Yucca: And do you, does it seem like, do you have multiple types or species of acorns and they all will seed at once or does it kind of depend on your, on the species?
Mark: Every Oak tree that I've seen of, of, and we have, we probably have eight species here, but. The vast majority are about three species and every Oak tree that I've seen here this year is just heavy with acorns. So it's it seems to be something that they've agreed upon. This is a good year to do that.
So, that'll be good for lots of kinds of creatures, mice and rats and squirrels and so forth.
Yucca: Yeah. Oh, how fun. So you could collect a few of those and have them inside.
Mark: Yeah. I've already done that. I have some on my, on my focus, my altar and starting to think about wrapping up the year. We'll be talking more about that. But I have items from Sabbath rituals that I've done around the course of the year, that I'll be burning at Hallows that are starting to starting to lose their.
Their their urgency in my mind, when I look at them, they're starting to fade in their power. As things will, as time goes by in many cases, those sort of temporary items like we did we did a ritual at the spring Equinox in which we made we, we wrote. Plans or wishes for the coming year cycle and then folded them into paper cranes.
And so I will be unfolding mine and reading what those were so I can reflect on what those plans were and how they turned out and then refolding it and putting it in the Hallows fire when, when that time comes. Yeah, it's a. It's a good time to be a pagan. Autumn is and whether you're in the north or the Southern hemisphere, we wish you the very best of the season.
Yucca: Thank you.
Mark: Oh, Thank you. Yucca. Always. Good to talk with you. We've got some cool episodes lined up coming up soon. So, we look forward to seeing you then, and be sure to check out that link about the century retreat, because we'd really like to see you there. Thanks everybody. Thanks for listening.