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Donna Henes is an internationally renowned urban shaman, award-winning author, popular speaker and workshop leader whose joyful celebrations of celestial events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporary ceremonies to millions of people in more than 100 cities since 1972. She has published four books and currently writes for the Huffington Post
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Like everyone else I know, I have been so tired - so over worked, over stretched, over extended, over committed and overwhelmed, plus being out of commission with a broken wrist - that my first thought about how to celebrate Thanksgiving this year was to have a circle dinner.
That is, a meal consisting of round organic frozen turkey burgers, round organic frozen sweet potato pancakes, tiny round frozen organic peas and that awful canned cranberry sauce of my childhood cut into rounds.
I love the symbolism of a Circle Supper to celebrate Thanks Giving when we honor the circles of our near and dear and the cycles of our lives, of all life. When we offer gratitude for the cosmic sphere that we live on, which supports and defines our living.
Besides, I thought I would be thankful for not having to cook.
I actually like to cook. And I especially like the ritual of cooking that particular meal together with my sweetie. Cooking for days and eating and overeating and eating leftovers for days. There is no better way to express thankfulness than with somethin' luv'n from the oven.
I really, really did not feel like cooking this year, what with only one functioning hand. Nor did I want to go to a restaurant for an exorbitantly expensive meal.
I did want to enjoy the traditional once a year menu. I also wanted to ritualize my gratitude, especially during this period of recovery. I wanted to take the time and make the space to honor the cycles and circles of time, of relationship, of spirit.
We have ordered Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings and guaranteed leftovers from Boston Market. And the huge amount of money that we saved went to the Philippines so we can share the bounty of our gratitude at the world table and affirm our place in the circle embrace of humanity.
With blessing of bounty,
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
- Melodie Beattie
Sarah Hale was the
editor of Godey's Lady's Book from 1837
for four decades until she retired at the age of 90. Under her direction, it was the leading American women's literary and fashion periodical. She was one of the most famous women of her time and an important and influential arbiter of American taste - the Oprah of her time.
She was a strong advocate for a number of causes. She consistently advocated education, exercise, property rights, and sensible fashion for women. She is credited with helping make the founding of Vassar College acceptable to a public unaccustomed to the idea of women's education.
Sarah Hale wrote many novels and poems, publishing nearly fifty volumes of work by the end of her life. Her collection Poems for Our Children includes the now-famous "Mary Had a Little Lamb", which was published in 1830 as "Mary's Lamb."
In addition to all her many contributions to society, Sarah Hale was single-mindedly and single-handedly responsible for making Thanksgiving a national holiday, an effort that she began in 1827.
"We have too few holidays. Thanksgiving like the Fourth of July should be considered a national festival and observed by all our people. There is a deep moral influence in these periodical seasons of rejoicing, in which whole communities participate. They bring out... the best sympathies in our natures."
Hale felt that the spiritual dimension of Thanksgiving could help to prevent the insanity of civil war in America. As the hostilities heated up between North and South and the prospect of war became more immediate she bombarded both national and state officials with requests for the national holiday.
Sarah Hale doggedly wrote thousands of letters in her own hand over a period of 36 years to five presidents: Zachary Taylor, Millard Filmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln. "If every state would join in Union Thanksgiving on the 24th of this month, would it not be a renewed pledge of love and loyalty to the Constitution of the United States?" Hale wrote in an 1859 editorial.
Finally the 74-year old Hale found a sympathetic ear in Abraham Lincoln when she wrote: "You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution."
In 1863 as the Civil War ravished the land, President Lincoln issued his now famous Thanksgiving Proclamation in which he honored America's blessings, even in its darkest hour.
And so it came to pass that Americans celebrate Thanksgiving together on the fourth Thursday of November each year, thanks to Queen Sarah Josepha Hale.
There is joy
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
in the spoon and the chair
that cry "hello there Anne"
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver plate, cup upon
All this is God
right here in my pea-green house
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in the prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.
So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.
The joy that isn't shared, I've heard,
© Estate of Anne Sexton
I am calling you all in, to be by our side...
in prayers of gratitude, and especially,
I have it my heart to ask you to sing for us, for all...
for the good.. and to make a bit of beauty
and give it in joy and thanks to what we all love
and serve, ardently, completely...daily,
moment by moment..
o, may we, may I, with your help, remember
that each moment is this same edge,
this choice... trust, gratefulness,
grief and...and praise.
The Queen's Court is a gathering of sovereign women of a certain age - our dear peers - who graciously offer information, guidance, inspiration and encouragement to each other.
We Queens know what we know. And we know a great deal. Our experience has made us wise. So, feel free to consult with our cyber council/counsel when you are need of sage advice or wish to explore a particular topic of interest.
As I wrote in the last issue, women seem to be falling like flies lately. Literally, falling to the ground. And also falling ill. Not a day passes without my hearing about another woman who has fallen and broken some part of herself.
Or fallen down dead. This month alone, I lost several old friends and revered role models. Each of these wonderful Queens has touched me in some memorable way. And I am so grateful.
I just came across this wisdom from Albert Schweitzer, my dear childhood idol:
At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
Thanksgiving is a timely moment to recognize those guiding lights in our life with fond appreciation. I hereby invite all Queens to share stories in praise of those who have lit a flame within you.
Who has inspired, encouraged, excited and/or embraced your soul? Who has touched you, taught you, transformed you?
Please share your cherished memories of grateful honor.
Your letters will be printed in the next Queen's Chronicles.
Send your responses to: email@example.com
The Queen's Correspondence
Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to The Queen's Chronicles.
Please keep your comments coming. And do feel free to make suggestions about content you would like to see. Or anything else, for that matter. It is a joy to connect with you.
Letters In Response to the OCTOBER 2013 Issue
I have lost so many friends and relatives to breast cancer,
so I was glad that you called attention to that disease. Here are blessings to all women in the names of those who have been stricken.
- Sherrie, KS
My mom got breast cancer when she was 77. So many of us have been impacted, whether as patients or caregivers. Both paths are so difficult. And yet there are many valuable lessons to be learned along the way. At least I can say, I learned my share. Thank you for sharing those lessons of other women.
- Jeanette, NM
Every time I get a mammogram I am scared that I might be next. Thank heavens I have escaped so far. But my prayers are always with those who have had that terrifying diagnosis. Thanks for the thoughtful issue.
- Teresa, OR
Thank you so much for including me and Lillian in your Kudos section of this issue of The Queen's Chronicles. I'm so honored to be in the Bosom Power issue! :) Warm regards,
- Deborah, NY
WOW DONNA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GORGEOUSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!
I am Sending it on.
- Judyth, Mexico
Your letters will be printed in the next Queen's Chronicles.
We extend hearty congratulations to our multi-talented circle of Sister Queens for their impressive accomplishments and successes.
I woke up this morning knowing in my soul
that I live and create magic.
I have often let others' realities get in my way,
because they don't yet believe.
I have toned down my magic
in order to spare them discomfort.
Today I am re-committing to living my magic.
I wanted to share that with you, awesome women.
I have a feeling I am not alone here.
- Athena Burke-Singing Love
Robin Bady, NY; Allesandra Belloni, NJ; Ubaka Hill, NY; and Pauline Oliveros, NY; on their performances and/or performances of their work.
Susan Gregg, HI, The Complete Encyclopedia of Magical Plants (Book): on her new publication.
Stephanie Brody-Lederman, NY; Karen Fitzgerald, NY; Janet Goldner, NY; Barbara Rosenthal, NY; Patricia Smith, NY; and Martha Wilson, NY; on the exhibitions of their artwork.
Linda Gross, NY, on her engagement.
Trinh Thai, NJ, on her new home.
Please send your good news, achievements, accomplishments, successes and celebrations so that our international circle of sovereign sisters can send you blessings and accolades.
And we are glad to so. It is a joy and a privilege to share in the fortune of another woman. I recently heard Oprah say the saddest thing ever - "The hardest thing about being successful is having someone to be glad for you."
It takes a centered and confident Queen to break that pattern. There are 60 million thrones out there. One for each of us. There is plenty of purpose, passion and power for us all. May we use it well!
Please Offer Your Purest Thoughts, Your Heart-Felt Prayers, Your Great Good Feelings, And Your Very Best Blessings For Healing and Peace of Mind To:
Adrianne, NY; Alison, TN; Ansja, NY; Babs, NY; Bebee, DE; Berenice, NY; Bettye, NY; Betty, AL; Chrissie, NY; Christine, NY; Dana, CA; Dani, WI; Dolly, NY; Dominique, NM; Gail, WA; Glenys, Australia; Jo, AZ; Joan, ME; Joan, NY; Judith, NY; Karen, NJ; Kathleen, PA; Kaylin, MD; Kazuko, NY; Kim, NY; Kimi, NJ; Laura, NY; Linda, SC; Lisa, NJ; Lorie, KY; Lydia, CO; Lisa, PA; Lucia, TX; Mari, VA; Marna, NY; Mary, MD; Mary, NY; Mary, OH; Naomi, DC; Pat, MA; Patsy, NY; Paula, NT; Pearl, NY; Roberta, NY; Sandy, CA;
Sharon, NY; Shelley, NY; Shirley, IN; Sherli, CA; Sid, PA; Smriti, CA; Susan, MA; Susan, NC; Terri, FL; Urvashi, NY; Vicki, MN; Weslea, ME; and Yvette, NY; who are in the process of healing themselves from illness, accident, injury, or surgery.
Amy, NY; D. Barbara, NY; Beverly, NY; Carol, NY; Diana, FL; Eleni, NY; Gaetana, NY; Glenys, Australia; Joanne, NY; Kimberly, NY; Kimi, NJ; Linda, NY; Linda, NY; Maureen, NY; Meryl, NY; Dee, NY; Patricia, Australia; Regi, CA; Sheryll, CA; Susan, NY; and Svetlana, NY; who would benefit greatly from some spiritual support.
Ali, VT; Annie, NY; Barbara, NY; Chrys, NY; Deni, NY; Erica, New Zealand; Gaetana, NY; Gail, NY; Hemetra, PA; Kat, NY; Kate, NY; Kathrine, Denmark; Laurie, OH; Lois, NY; Marla, NY; Nancy, NC; and Roslyn, NJ; the caregivers who are in weary need of care themselves
May Their Spirits Rest in Peace:
Doris Lessing, England
Annie Rawlings, NY
Layne Redmond, NC
Lady Olivia Robertson, England
With Heartfelt Condolences:
Colleene Fesko, MA
Please add my friend Mary Nerney to your prayer list. She had an internal melanoma (I didn't know such a thing existed) and it has metastasized, so she needs lots of prayer! She is in radiation now and relies on all our circles of prayer to support her. Thank you!!! Take care,
- Margaret, NY
My heart hurts today and has hurt for 8 days now. My friend in Germany and her hubby just got the diagnosis on November 8, that her husband (barely 51) has stomach cancer that has metastasized to his liver (where he now has a tumor), probably pancreas and perhaps bones, but they stopped doing tests. She is beside herself (50 years old). He's in palliative care on pain meds, but fairly clear at times, not at others. She took a walk with him today and said he doesn't look as sick as he is. I don't know about his prognosis; perhaps she has too much info to process. He is clearly going to die, whether in the hospital or at home; it's just a matter of time. I wish him no or relatively little pain. I personally don't understand why the docs are recommending chemo. There are a bunch of things that I'm not clear on across the miles, but trying to be there for her and support with e-mails and Skype. Her world is turned on its side, or perhaps upside down. They have a 16-year old daughter. I don't understand the logic or lack thereof when the universe drops bombshells like this. What is the f'ing purpose of life and his life if it ends in such agony, suffering and a rift for the family? It's not because Eve got thrown out of the Garden with Adam. And it's not from some other lifetime he f'ked up in. This defies logic and it really pisses me off. There are other people I can think of that are more deserving, like your Ariel Castros of the world, or your Hitlers, or ..... well, you get the point. Anyway, thank you. Love,
- Elfie, NY
Please send your requests for physical and spiritual healing and positive energy so that the powerful women of The Queen's Court might send their prayers and blessings to you in your time of need.
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Information about seasons, cycles, & celebrations
It is my hope that as more and more women
rise to reign in the fullest potential
of our supremacy, we will harness our purpose,
passion, and power and direct it toward
creating a more balanced and peaceful world.
This is the legacy of Her majesty.
Your Crowning Achievement!