Author Archives: smsenden

About smsenden

S. M. Senden was raised in Winnetka, a north shore suburb of Chicago. From an early age reading and writing were passions as was travel. Senden has studied, lived and worked in the USA, Europe, the Mid-East and Africa, spending a number of years as an archaeological illustrator for various expeditions. S. M. Senden earned a Masters Degree and has studied creative writing, play writing and screenwriting. Publications include: Two history books, Red Oak and Montgomery County, Iowa published by Arcadia in the Images of America series. Short Stories: The December Bride in Winter Wonders an anthology published by Whimsical Publications, and Christopher’s Egg in the anthology Change is in the Wind published by Second Wind. Articles and mediations in both The Clergy Journal and The Word in Season and a number of ghost stories in various magazines. Clara's Wish, published by Second Wind Publications is S.M. Senden's debut mystery. S. M. Senden currently resides in the greater Omaha metro area and is working on another historical mystery, as well as a modern day series involving forensic artist, Dr. Kate Ashton.


Recently I heard that a neighbor woman was to be evicted from her home because the city had condemned it.  Her home is across and down the block on the corner.  I got to know her slightly about four years ago in a neighborhood association meeting.

Shortly after I met her, she had a hip operation.  As soon as she could she was out and walking up the street, first with her walker, then a cane.  You have to admire her determination, she was in her seventies.  I’d cheer her on as she got stronger every day.

This same woman, a year later was in her front yard with her little dog.  Suddenly out of nowhere another dog, larger and heavier came rushing at the lady and her dog.  The bigger dog attacked the other dog, and the woman fought the bigger dog to save her pet.  The bigger dog turned on her, mauling and biting her arm, knocking her to the ground.  A Good Samaritan driving by in his truck witnessed the altercation, parked his vehicle and jumped out armed with a knife, since he could not pull the bigger dog off the woman, he killed the big dog.

She was interviewed on the news after the incident.  She had been wearing a thick sweater, she recounts that was how she only came away with slight scrapes, cuts and bruises.  Otherwise that dog could have taken her arm off, or killed her.

The news filmed her inside her home, behind her one could see piles of tin cans of food, and piles of miscellaneous things.  She was a hoarder.  The city warned her about cleaning up the place; though the small yard was always tended.  The house wasn’t in good condition, the third floor porch began to collapse and broken windows were not repaired.

Later, I learned form another neighbor that a couple of her grandchildren had been living with her.  Her house was a large four-square with plenty of space for them all.  The granddaughter never ventured out of the room she occupied.  A grandson became a meth user, and another grandson would come and go, living off of his grandmother, then go somewhere else, and live off someone else.

This household headed in a disastrous direction.  Her once astute and sharp mind began to dull and forgetfulness slipped in more and more for her.  The meth user abused and beat his grandmother, probably for the money she got from Social Security so he could spend it on drugs.  He has been banned from many places in town because of the powerful stench of body odor, unwashed flesh mixed with his body waste; the grandchildren shared the hoarding tendencies and lack of sanitation with their grandmother.

Little by little she had utilities shut off for non-payment.  The gas meant they had space heaters in the winter.  When the water was shut off sanitation and bathing became memories, and no one inside that house seemed to mind.  The electricity being the last she held onto.

Sadly, none of us knew of the woman’s issues, for she kept her secrets hidden behind closed doors.  The city condemned her house.  She fought the condemnation for eighteen months in the courts, and lost each time.  The last Tuesday in February the city officials along with the pastor who runs the homeless food kitchen came to evict all who dwelt in that house.  The grandmother left without incident and was taken to a woman’s shelter, for she had nowhere else to go.  The granddaughter had vacated many months earlier. The meth using grandson had been arrested and put in jail for beating up his grandmother again, so he was in jail.  The other grandson came with her to get settled into the woman’s shelter.

The city boarded up the windows on the first floor.  They will contract out to have the house torn down, as there is no way it can be salvaged from years of neglect combined with three feet of garbage, human and animal waste that have rotted the walls and floors.  The house is a bio-hazard at this point.  The police expect the meth using grandson to break into the house once he is released from prison in early March.

I think about my neighbor woman’s life, and the turmoil hidden behind the four walls of her home, of her world for so many years.  I do not know if there would have been anything I could have done to have changed things for her.  She had always been a private person who did not interact with neighbors too often.  She will probably become a ward of the state now, and placed in an institution, for she is confused and does not know what is happening about her any more.  I can pray for her for that is the least I can do; for there but for the grace of God, go I.

As I think about my neighbor and gaze at her home, boarded up now, I thought of this song….


By Dory Previn

We never stop to wonder
Till a person’s gone
We never yearn to know him
Till he’s traveled on

When someone is around us
We never stop to ask
Hey, what’s behind your mirror
Hey, who’s beneath your mask

We never stop to wonder
Till a person’s gone
We never yearn to know him
Till he’s packed and traveled on

Sweet Marilyn Monroe on the silver screen
Platinum reflection in a movie magazine
Well, did you ever have a headache?
Did your mama own a gramophone?
Did you like to be an actress?
Were you scared to be alone?

We never stop to wonder
Till a person’s gone
We never yearn to know him
Till he’s traveled on

When someone is around us
We don’t know what we’re seeing
We take a Polaroid picture
To find the human being

We never stop to wonder
Till a person’s gone
We never yearn to know him
Till he’s packed and traveled on

Sweet beautiful Jesus on a painted cross
Polystyrene body with a superficial gloss
Hey, were you jealous of your father?
Were you short when you were fully grown?
Did you like to walk on water?
Were you scared to be alone?

I think perhaps tomorrow
I’ll try to make a friend to really get to know him
Instead of pretend I’ll ask him if his feet hurt
Has he burdens to be shared?

And if he doesn’t walk away
I’ll ask him if he’s scared?
And if he doesn’t walk away
If his eyes don’t turn to stone
I’ll ask him if he’s scared to be alone?


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Harbinger of Spring?

I am not a big fan of the cold and winter mostly because I don’t like being cold.  As a child of the summer and love the warmer days. The sweet days of spring as the earth awakens after a long sleep, summer then brings the full promise of growth and of nights when the air feels like velvet on your skin, (high humidity I can do without) and the crisp days of fall with harvest and the beautiful colors of plants as their season ends; these I enjoy, winter I endure.

When we make it through January and I turn the page of the calendar to February I begin to feel a little hopeful that winter has turned the corner and spring will be with us soon.  I can enjoy a short term of bracingly cold air on my cheeks as I shovel the walk, and watch mesmerized as snow falls in thick waterfalls of white covering the barren land transforming it into a fairyland of wonder, and then I sensibly retreat into my home to warm up with a hot cup of coffee or tea by a fire.

February 2 is the day the groundhog is to predict the next 6 weeks.  In this I always get a laugh, because they never leave poor Punxsutawney Phil to his own devices. They wake him up like drunks partying in the streets late at night, and then haul the poor rodent out of his comfortable home to ask him “Hello Phil, do you see your shadow?”  What a bunch of idiots.

Phil got some revenge this year.  The Mayor held Phil closer to his ear to see if Phil would whisper the news of winter’s weather. Then CHOMP, the rodent went for the man’s ear.  Phil did not want to be out of his nest!  Lesson to be learned here.

Hauling Phil from his nest also ruins the fortune.  If we had one like Phil to observe around here, and left to his own devices, we would not have seen him at all. He would not have ventured out in the new snowfall of six to eight inches.  A half inch of ice with a thick blanket of the white stuff would have deterred him.

The weather predicting rodent would have burrowed deeper into his comfortable home and said; “Heck, I’m not stirring out of here.”  Joining him were all the other varieties of rodents we have around here: tree rats (squirrels), possums, raccoons etc. all stayed in for the last four days. Not a paw print has yet marred the pristine snow.

So, do we have six more weeks of winter?

I shall wait and see. But in the meantime I am filled with the hope of spring and the promise of rebirth that comes as winter loses her grip upon the land.

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NEW YEAR January 2015

Happy New Year I hope that this year will bring great abundance of all good things and incredible prosperity to everyone.  As we put aside the old year and embrace the New Year we look to this New Year as a clean slate, a chance to begin again, leaving all the problems, obstacles and upsets in the past.

This turning of the new page has roots in ancient Roman religion and mythology.  Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions, of gates, doors, doorways, endings and time. He is usually depicted as a two-faced god since he looks to the future and the past. The Romans dedicated the month of January to Janus.

Janus symbolized change and transitions such as the progression of past to future, of one condition to another, of one vision to another, and of one universe to another. Janus was worshipped at the beginnings of the harvest and planting times, as well as marriages, births and other beginnings.

The Winter solstice occurred late December, marking the end of fall beginning of winter and a change in the earth. January 1, New Year’s day was consecrated to Janus since it was the first of the new year it became customary to exchange cheerful words of good wishes.

As I look at my new calendar full of so many empty pages and possibilities I have hopes for how the year will unfold.  I set goals that I hope to accomplish, because I’m choosing goals that are realistic and workable.  I ask myself to be disciplined enough to accomplish these goals.  Most of these goals are up to me, a few others are in tandem with others, making them a little more tenuous as I can not force anyone to do something.  But I can hope for cooperation and accomplishment of our goals!  I can hold up my end of the agreement.

Of these goals I have chosen I have written then in the front of the calendar for the year.  When accomplished I will be able to check them off as accomplished as the year unfolds.

What goals have you set for yourself?  Make them realistic and reachable goals.  Have little goals along the way that when accomplished will help spur you onto the bigger tasks before you.

I wish everyone great success in accomplishing all that you have set out to do this year.

S. M. Senden author of Clara’s Wish, Lethal Boundaries, A Death of Convenience and Other Short Stories, Murder at the Johnson House.

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A Short History of Christmas Carols

Carols were first sung in Europe thousands of years ago, but these were not Christmas Carols. They were pagan songs, sung at the Winter Solstice celebrations as people danced round stone circles. The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year around the 22nd December. The word Carol actually means dance or a song of praise and joy. Though Carols were written and sung during all four seasons, but only the tradition of singing them at Christmas survived.

Early Christians, as with so many Pagan festivities and symbols, took over the solstice celebrations melding them into Christmas celebrations giving people Christian songs to sing to replace the pagan songs. In AD 129, a Roman Bishop stated that a song called “Angel’s Hymn” should be sung at the Christmas service in Rome. Soon composers all began to write Christmas carols, mostly in Latin, a language that most people could no longer understand. However, by the Middles Ages people began to lose interest in celebrating Christmas.

In 1223 St. Francis of Assisi when began to change the interest in the Christmas Celebrations by creating Nativity Plays where actors sang canticles that told the nativity story. These new carols spread to France, Spain, Germany and other European countries.  The earliest such carol was written in 1410 about Mary and Jesus meeting different people in Bethlehem. Only a very small fragment of it still exists.

Everything changes when Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans came to power in England in 1647, they stopped the celebration of Christmas and singing carols. However, the carols survived as people still sang them in secret. Carols remained mainly unsung until Victorian times, when two men, William Sandys and Davis Gilbert, travelled about the countryside of England and collected old Christmas music, preserving the ancient music for future generations.

During the Victorian era the celebration of Christmas became popularized again and many orchestras and choirs were created in England and people wanted Christmas songs to sing, carols once again became popular. Many new carols were written to satisfy the demand.  At this same time, carols services were created and became popular, as did the custom of singing carols in the streets. The most popular Carols services are the Candlelight services.  These are the services we celebrate today that generate within us a remembrance of that blessing given that night long ago in the stable in Bethlehem.

As we celebrate this Holiday season, I wish for you all the blessings of Christmas, and joy, prosperity and peace in the new year!

Does the carol, the 12 days of Christmas have a hidden meaning?

There’s no evidence that this is true.

It could just a folk song and the meanings were added at a later date.

The 12 Days of Christmas begin on Christmas day and ends on Epiphany, 6th January.  The ‘true love’ represents God. The ‘me’ are the Christian men and women who receive these presents.

The ‘partridge in a pear tree’ is Jesus who died on the cross. In ancient times a partridge was often used as mythological symbol of a divine, sacred king.

The ‘two turtle doves’ are the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Doves also symbolize peace.

The ‘three French hens’ are ~~ faith, hope and love – the three gifts of the Holy Spirit. (See 1 Corinthians 13). The French hens also represent Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

The ‘four calling birds’ are the four Gospels in the New Testament.

The ‘five golden rings’ are the first five books of the Bible also called the Pentateuch, the Books of Moses or the Torah.

The ‘six geese a-laying’ are the six days of creation.

The ‘seven swans a swimming’ are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. (See 1 Corinthians 12:8-11, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4:10-11)

The ‘eight maids a milking’ are the eight beatitudes. (See Matthew 5:3-10)

The ‘nine ladies dancing’ are nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)

The ‘ten lords a-leaping’ are the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20)

The ‘eleven pipers piping’ are the eleven faithful disciples of Jesus.

The ‘twelve drummers drumming’ were the twelve points of the Apostles’ Creed.

How many gifts are there in total in the 12 Days of Christmas?   364!


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I don’t know about you, but I like to start my day with coffee. Do you ever wonder how we all got this wonderful brew?

According to the legends I have read, coffee was first discovered — not by humans — but by goats. An Ethiopian goatherd living sometime in the ninth century noticed his flock of goats eating berries from a strange tree. Later he noticed that after eating those berries the goats remained awake at night, and were full of energy.  It intrigued him, and angered him as the goats kept him up all night.

Later, he complained to a group of local monks.  He brought the berries with him for them to see and try.  The monks, in too typical a reaction to something new and different, stated that they were of the devil, and tossed them into the fire for destruction.  However, soon the aromatic fragrance of the beans roasting interested one monk not so worried about the devils’ fruit and fished them out of the fire and brewed them with water.

He found they tasted good, and soon they realized that if they brewed the fruit’s seeds into a hot drink, they too could stay awake to pray.  The fear of the devil still had not been quelled.

For many years there had been a thriving and vibrant trade between Venice and North Africa, Egypt, and the East that brought a large variety of African goods, including coffee, to Venice. With coffee as a product that made its way to port, Venetian merchants introduced coffee-drinking to the wealthy in Venice, making sure to charging them heavily for the beverage.

It wasn’t immediate that coffee was consumed all over Europe.  Coffee finally became widely accepted after an interesting controversy over whether it was acceptable for Catholics to consume the brew.  Some in the Church still claimed it was of the devil.  However, this argument was at last settled in its favor by Pope Clement VIII in 1600. They brewed him a cup of coffee. All authority and the final answer to the controversy lay with the Pope.  He sniffed at the cup of dark aromatic liquid, and sipped at it.  It pleased him and thus ended the argument. Coffee had been sanctioned by the Pope and its popularity grew.

The first coffee house in Europe opened in Venice in 1645, and more followed all over Europe. These coffee houses became the centers for men to meet, discuss business and seal business transactions. Lloyds of London was formed within the walls of a coffee house in London.

Next time you feel that craving for a warm, wonderful cup of coffee, remember to thank the hungry goats who started it all.


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Clara’s Wish by S. M. Senden

Clara Lindgren stood at the edge of the desolate field as the chilly December wind whipped about her. The fields were barren now; winter had come to the land. The broken corn stalks, once so full of potential, lay scattered in the fields, the wind tossing them about as it played in the ruins of the harvest.
She felt that the land was a metaphor for her life, barren, and the springtime of her days were far behind her. She shivered against the cold that penetrated her thick, woolen sweater as she thought about her life.
She was twenty-three now and feared that she was doomed to spend her years as a spinster, to live as a maiden aunt and help raise one of her siblings’ children if one of them would be kind enough to take her in under their roof. Clara would cook, clean and do all the menial chores of a servant in exchange for her room and board.
It wasn’t how she had wanted her life to turn out. Clara still held onto the tattered hopes that someday she would meet that someone special. But that dream faded more and more with each passing season. Life was passing her by, and she didn’t know if there was anything she could do to change it.
She sighed, her frosty breath enveloping her for a moment before it faded.
A light snow began to fall. She loved the smell of snow, a cold dryness that tickled her nose. Usually the frigid fragrances of winter wafted on the wind long before the snow began to fall. Clara looked up as the flakes fell from a flat, leaden sky. She had heard someone call it Winter’s Communion if you put your tongue out to catch the flakes. She watched as they fell, growing thicker in abundance from above.
She could hear the chunky flakes as they plashed into the earth, landed on her shoulders and nestled into her hair.
Soon the bleak land would be covered in a beautiful mantle of white, transforming everything into a fairyland. If only her life could transform as easily. Clara knew she was shy, but she didn’t think she was ugly. She had soft brown hair that she wore in a stylish bob, dark green eyes, flawless, pale skin, an oval face and a kewpie bow mouth. These were the attributes that everyone seemed to want, so why hadn’t anyone wanted her? What was wrong with her that no man had chosen her?
Snow was beginning to accumulate in the rutted furrows, filling them up, transforming the land. Soon the fields would not look so desolate or abandoned with the remnants of that which had been once so full of life and plentiful harvest. The snow now covered the broken stalks, making them over into something wondrous, like something out of a fairy tale.
She realized that it was the first snowfall of the season. She could make a wish now. She had learned of an old French custom of making a wish the first time you did something, or, in this instance, the first of something in a year.
This was the first snowfall of winter, 1923.
She closed her eyes; she knew her wish by heart. She had wished it so often. She wondered if it would ever come true.
“I wish that this might be the last Christmas that I ever see on the farm. I wish to leave this place forever.” Her whispered words took shape in the cold air and hung before her for a moment and then were lost in the frosty wind that snapped them away.

To read more….Clara’s Wish is available on Amazon and Second Wind Publishers.

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Teaser New Book

Savannah Georgia, September 1895
It was hot, stiflingly hot. Tempers frayed as temperatures in the small room rose, making it harder to breathe. The poker game had been going on for hours now, and the players, though weary, weren’t willing to walk away. One man, afraid of changing his luck, soiled himself rather than take a break. The thick, humid air stank of sweat, urine and cigar smoke as the men searched one another for that fatal tell that would let the others know he might be bluffing.
A few of the men relented, looking at their cards one last time, wishing for something better and knowing the cards they needed weren’t going to magically appear. Earl Buchanan had been one of the men who had folded, throwing his cards on the table in disgust; a last thought passing through his mind, had he done the right thing? Earl Buchanan looked about the room as he got up from his chair and took a place along the wall with the other men who had dropped out of the hand. He wondered who held the kind of cards that could win the engorged pot of money in the center of the table. He cast a glance at his friend, George Hutchinson, who still sat at the table his face showing no emotion. Earl Buchanan had never been able to find his friends tell in all the years they had worked together or played poker.
The stakes were high in this hand with thousands of dollars at risk. Now, only three men remained vying for the ultimate victory. The tension between them crackled in the moist, fetid air like heat lightening. As Orville Devey shifted in his chair he looked over his cards again, secreting them close to his chest so no one could peek and give him away. He looked at George Hutchinson to see if he might reveal anything about his hand. Then his eyes darted to the man named Patrick Lemp who claimed his family brewed beer in the caves of St Louis, Missouri, his grandfather having perfected the krausening process nearly fifty years earlier.
“I fold, gentlemen,” Patrick Lemp threw his cards to the table with a sigh. “This has gotten beyond what I can afford to lose.” He leaned back and mopped the sweat from his brow. He counted the cash he had left, and then eyed the kitty longingly.
Orville Devey darted a quick look at Lemp as Lemp pushed away from the table, getting up for the drink he’d needed for a while now. The dense smoky air had parched his throat. The only sound in the room came from the liquor pouring into a glass, and Lemp drinking greedily before sighing with satisfaction.
Devey shifted his gaze back to Hutchinson. He could feel a trickle of sweat dribble down from his forehead and run down his cheek. He wanted the hand to be over so he could collect the pot. His nerves frazzled by the glut of money tossed on the table. The pile of bills and gold coins glittered in the wavering gas light. He took in a breath, slowly filling his lungs, waiting to see what his opponent, Hutchinson, would do next.
The gas lamps hissed in mockery as Devey hesitated, searching again his opponent’s face.


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August and Harvest Rituals

Life is lived in cycles; the cycles of life are made evident as we approach the season of reaping what has been sewn. As crops ripen, and burgeon forth with abundance people around the world prepare for the harvest. August is a month full of harvest celebrations and superstitions all over the world that have been handed down for centuries.

August 1
On this day, the Lammas Sabbat is celebrated by Wiccans and Witches throughout the world. Lammas (which is also known as Lughnasadh, August Eve, and the First Festival of Harvest) marks the start of the harvest season and is a time when the fertility aspect of the sacred union of the Goddess and Horned God is honored. The making of corn dollies (small figures fashioned from braided straw) is a centuries-old Pagan custom which is carried on by many modern Witches as part of the Lammas Sabbat rite. The corn dollies are placed on the Sabbat altar to represent the Mother Goddess who presides over the harvest. It is customary on each Lammas to make or buy a new corn dolly and then burn the old one from the past year for good luck.

On this day in the country of Macedonia, Neo-Pagans celebrate the Day of the Dryads, an annual nature festival dedicated to the maiden spirits who inhabit and rule over forests and trees.

August 2
On this day, the Feast of Anahita is celebrated in honor of the ancient Persian goddess Anahita, a deity associated with love and lunar powers.

Lady Godiva Day is celebrated annually on this date in the village of Coventry, England, with a medieval-style parade led by a nude woman on horseback.

August 3
The harvest season begins on this date in Japan with an annual festival called the Aomori Nebuta. Bamboo effigies with grotesquely painted faces are paraded through the streets in order to drive away the spirits of sleep.

August 4
Each year on this date, it was believed that the waters of Scotland’s Loch-mo-Naire became charged with miraculous magical powers to heal all who drank it or bathed in it. For many years it was a custom for those who visited Loch-mo-Naire to toss in a coin of silver as an offering to the benevolent spirits that dwelled within the lake.

August 5
Many folks still believe in this ancient superstition: if you make a secret wish wile looking up at the new moon (which normally begins on or near this date in August), your wish will be granted before the year is through.

August 6
On this date in the year 1817, a huge creature described as a sea-serpent was spotted in the ocean near Gloucester harbor in Massachusetts. Coincidentally, on this same date in the year 1948, a similar creature was seen by the crew of the British naval frigate Daedalus.

This day is sacred to the Cherokee Earth-Goddess Elihino and her sister Igaehindvo, the sacred goddess of the Sun.

August 7
In ancient Egypt, the cow-headed goddess Hathor was honored on this day by an annual festival known as Breaking the Nile. The festival, which was also dedicated to all water and river goddesses, celebrated the rising of the fertile waters of the mystical River Nile.

In ancient Greece, the annual mourning ceremony called the Adonia was held on this date in honor of the dying hero-god Adonis.

August 8
According to the Christian Church calendar, the Virgin Mary was born on this day.
The Eve of the Festival of Venus was celebrated annually on this date by the ancient Romans. On this night, the goddess of love and beauty was honored and invoked with prayers, love songs, libations, and passionate lovemaking. It was also a time when sorceresses performed all forms of love magic and marriage-mate divinations.

August 9
On this date, many Wiccans from around the world celebrate the annual Feast of the Fire Spirits. Dried mandrake root or yarrow herb is cast into fires as offerings to the Salamanders.

August 10
A centuries-old festival called Ghanta Karna Day is celebrated annually around this time of August in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal. The event celebrates the death of Ghanta Karna, a blood thirsty Hindu demon who haunts crossroads and is the sworn enemy of the god Vishnu.

August 11
On this day, an Irish fertility festival known as the Puck Fair begins. The medieval-style festival, which pays homage to the mischievous sprite Robin Goodfellow, continues for three consecutive days.

Oddudua, the “Mother of all Gods”, is honored on this day by followers of the Santeria religion in Africa and South America.

August 12
The goddess Isis and her search for Osiris (her brother and consort) is commemorated on this day by the Lychnapsia (Festival of the Lights of Isis). Dried rose petals and vervain are burned in small cauldron pots or incense burners as offerings to Isis, and green candles are lit in her honor.

August 13
On this date, the major Pagan festival of Hecate is traditionally held at moonrise. Hecate, the mysterious goddess of darkness and protectress of all Witches, is a personification of the Moon and the dark side of the female principle.

August 14
Every year on this date, a “burryman” (a man wearing a costume of thistle burrs, and representing an ancient fertility god) walks through the streets in many of the fishing villages along the coast of Scotland, collecting donations from the villagers. The origin of the burryman remains a mystery.

August 15
Festival of Vesta. The ancient Roman goddess of the hearth was honored annually on this date in ancient times. Many modern Witches light six red candles and cast herbs into hearth fires on this day to honor Vesta and to receive her blessings for family and home.

August 16
Salem Heritage Day in Massachusetts~ On this date in the year 1987, the first Harmonic Convergence as observed worldwide during the Grand Trine (the alignment of all nine planets in our solar system). The event, which lasted for two consecutive days, was believed to be the beginning of five years of peace and spiritual purification. Thousands of New Age enthusiasts gathered at various sacred sites to dance, chant, meditate, and tune into the positive energies of the Earth and the universe.

August 17
Festival of Diana. Every year on this date, the goddess of chastity, hunting, and the moon was honored by the ancient Romans. This is a special day of feasting, mirth, and magic-making for many Dianic Wiccans, since Diana is the most sacred goddess of their tradition.

On this date in the year 1950, Oglala Sioux mystic and medicine man Nicholas Black Elk died in Manderson, South Dakota. He was known for his great powers of prophecy and healing, and was an adherent of the Ghost Dance, a short-lived Native American religious movement which ended in a tragic massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1890.

August 18
On this date, the annual Festival of Hungry Ghosts is celebrated throughout China with burnt offerings to the spirits of the dead.

On this date in the year 1634, a parish priest named Father Urbain Grandier was found guilty of bewitching a group of nuns at a convent in Loudun, France, and causing them to be possessed by demons. He was condemned to be tortured and then burned alive in the public square of Saint Croix.

August 19
In ancient Rome, a wine-harvest celebration known as the Vinalia Rustica was held each year on this date. It was dedicated to the goddess Venus of the Grape Vine and also to Minerva.

On this date in the year 1692, the Reverend George Burroughs and John Willard were put to death on Salem’s infamous Gallows Hill as punishment for the crime of Witchcraft.

August 20
On this date in the year 1612, ten women and men known as the Lancashire Witches were executed on the gallows in one of England’s most famous Witch trials of the seventeenth century. Ironically, the nine-year-old girl who had supplied the court with incriminating evidence against the Witches was herself found guilty of Witchcraft twenty-two years later and executed in the second great Witch trial of Lancashire.

August 21
The Consualia, a harvest festival celebrating the storing of the new crop, was held annually on this date by the ancient Romans. Also celebrated on this date was the muscular deity Hercules, who was honored with a sacrifice at one of his shrines in the city of Rome. His annual festival was called the Heraclia.

August 22
On this date in the year 1623, the Order of the Rosy Cross (a secret sect associated with alchemy and reincarnation) was established in Paris, France. The mysterious Rosicrucian brotherhood was condemned by officials of the Church as worshipers of Satan.

This day is sacred to Nu Kwa, an ancient Chinese goddess identified with the healing goddess Kuan Yin.

August 23
The Volcanalia festival was celebrated annually on this date in ancient Rome. It was dedicated to Vulcan, the god of volcanic eruptions, and celebrated by frying fish alive to ward off accidental fires.
Each year on this date in Athens, the ancient Greeks celebrated a festival dedicated to Nemesis, the goddess who presided over the fate of all men and women.

August 24
On this date (approximately), the Sun enters the astrological sign of Virgo. Persons born under the sign of the Virgin are said to be analytical, organized, meticulous, and often prone to being perfectionists. Virgo is an earth sign and is ruled by the planet Mercury.

August 25
An annual harvest festival called the Opiconsiva was celebrated on this date in ancient Rome in honor of the fertility and success goddess Ops (Rhea). Later in the year, she was honored again at the Opalia festival on December 19 (the third day of the Saturnalia).

August 26
The periodic rebirth of the Hindu god Krishna (eighth and principal avatar of Vishnu) is celebrated by his faithful worshipers at midnight services on this date.
In the country of Finland, this is the annual Feast Day of Ilmatar (or Luonnotar), known as the Water Mother. According to mythology, she created the Earth out of chaos.

August 27
Consus, the god of the grain-store, was celebrated annually on this date by the ancient Romans. Sacrifices were made in his honor, and all beasts of burden were embellished with wreaths of flowers and given a day of rest.

The Festival of Krishna is celebrated annually on this day in the country of India. It is also a sacred day dedicated to Devaki, the Mother-Goddess.

August 28
In the country of Norway, a Pagan festival celebrating the harvest is held on this date each year.

August 29
Ancient Egyptian New Year
On this date in Nigeria, the Yoruba people celebrate the Gelede, an annual ritual of dancing and wearing of masks to drive away evil sorceresses.

In pre-Christian times, a festival called the Pardon of the Sea was celebrated annually in Britanny. It was originally dedicated to Athes, a Pagan goddess of the sea, and was later Christianized into the Feast of Saint Anne.

August 30
In Bengal, India, gruesome human sacrifices to the Indian earth-goddess Tari Pennu were made annually on this date as late as the mid-nineteenth century. After the sacrifice, a shaman would eat a bit of the victim’s flesh, and then the rest of the remains would be dismembered, burned, and scattered over a plowed field to ensure the fertility of future crops.

August 31
To purify the family spirits, Eyos (masqueraders wearing demon costumes concealed by white robes) walk through the streets of Lagos every year on this date. The Ritual Walk of the Eyos is a religious custom that dates back to ancient times.

On this date in the year 1934, Wiccan author Raymond Buckland was born in London, England. He founded the Seax-Wica tradition of Witchcraft, helped to introduce modern Wicca into the United States, and opened the first American Museum of Witchcraft and Magic.

In India, a women’s festival of purification is held each year on this day. It is called the Anant Chaturdasi, and is dedicated to the ancient serpent-goddess Ananta, who symbolizes the female life force.

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Happy 4th of July.

Today we celebrate the winning of our independence with a flourish of fireworks, gathering with family and sharing of the bounty of food and drink available to us all.

However, as we celebrate let us pause to remember that our freedom is a hard won gift from all those who have served this nation. Many have given their lives so that we can enjoy privileges such as free speech, the right to vote for all~ not just a privileged few who are land owners or possess wealth, the right to worship as we please with no state religion imposed upon us~ to name a few of the many blessings that come with being an American.

Over the years, I have had the rare privilege of living and working overseas in Europe, the Mideast and Africa. Living and working in these parts of the world is a lot different then being a tourist. You see the everyday grind of life in these nations. As a result of these experiences I have come to appreciate even more the freedoms we possess in America.

The United States is not perfect, far from it. However as we struggle as a nation to one more time redefine who we are in the world, we make great strides and we also stumble on the path. But no matter what, there is no other finer place that I know of then the good old USA.

So – with that said, no matter your party affiliation, no matter your religious views, no matter your race or preference of lovers, we come together in this melting pot of diversity to celebrate the birth of this nation.

Our nation.

Our Home!

Happy Birthday USA! May we celebrate for generations and generations to come! May we celebrate with joy and safety as we remember the struggles that brought us to this place in time and history.

HAPPY 4th of JULY !!!

S. M. Senden author of Clara’s Wish, Lethal Boundaries and A Death of Convenience.

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Sleepless Nights

Have you ever had one of those nights when you could not sleep, no matter what, your eyes popped open and your brain ran a million miles per hour?  I have, I believe we all have them once and a while.  Sometimes I lay in bed, hoping that sleep will come, other times I get up and go watch the idiot box, otherwise known as the television. 

There may be a good film on Turner Classic Movies, but usually they have something really odd airing in the wee hours of the morning.  The other stations are loaded with what they call “infomercials” those half hour or hour long spots that take advantage of their time to hammer the viewer with all the reasons their product is the one to buy. 

My question is: If this product is so good, why do we not see a regular ad on during normal hours when we are bombarded with a plethora of thirty second to one minute spots selling us more rubbish that we don’t need.

So many of the ads, no matter when they air, tell us how our lives are incomplete without their product.  They tell us that we are not enough on our own, or we are not good enough just as we are.  But we need not worry because their product, and their product alone will improve our sex life, make us look more successful or get us into the right circle of friends and business associates.  With their product our lives will be complete.  Many of these ads try to sell us the miracle pill or cookery product that will help us to lose those unwanted extra pounds that are making us miserable and our lives a failure. 

These ads reiterate over and over again the Be-Do-Have scenario.

That translated into ~~ what we should aspire to BE, before we can DO certain things in order to HAVE the life we want, and suddenly, miraculously, with their product clasped tightly in out hot little hands, our lives will be perfect. 

To that I say: Rubbish. 

This belief system is like standing at the train station waiting for the train that will take us to the next stop along the way, and when we get there everything will be wonderful, stress free and perfect.

Life, no matter what, is thick, deep and messy. 

Life is not an easy stroll through the garden.  Life is a struggle, and we are always trying to do better in our lives for ourselves and for those we love.  We are each unique and wonderful people.  We should celebrate and embrace our unique qualities and do the same for others, accept them for the unique treasure that they are. 

So what happens to the BE – DO – HAVE scenario?   

We should aspire to BE is ourselves, just our genuine self with the gifts, loves, joys and shortcomings that make us uniquely who we are.  There is nothing that we need to DO or buy or become before we can HAVE the life we want.  When we embrace ourselves, as we are, there we begin to have the life that is not always seeking something else, something we are fooled into believing will be better.  We need not wait for the train that will never come, because there is no place that will magically Poof us into perfection.  There is no product that can transform us as they would lead us to believe. 

Is the grass greener on the other side?  It may look that way from where your are standing, however, whoever may be on that other side may see that your grass is greener than theirs.  Perspective.

Don’t waste your life waiting for the train, hoping the thing you buy will make the difference, for those are not the things that will bring long lasting joy or peace.  Being at peace with who you are, oh yes, do work to improve, but first love who you are in the moment, flaws and all.  Make the most of the moment.  

All you need to BE is yourself, all you need to DO is love who you are and accept yourself as a wonderful, unique treasure, and HAVE the life you want, because it is right there within your grasp as long as you do not grasp for things that are dangled before you like a brass ring that corrodes once you have it in hand. 

S. M. Senden author Clara’s Wish and Lethal Boundaries and A Death of Convenience and Other Short

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