As Spiritual Humanists we believe
that every person has innate right to make a spiritual connection to the rest of the cosmos. Our premise is simple:
can solve the problems of society using a religion based on reason.
We cannot abandon ancient traditions and practices
but we can adapt them to our new understanding of the universe. Religion must be able to adapt to new knowledge about the
universe without rejecting the deep spiritual connections to human history and the natural world that we are a part of.
humans have an inalienable right and duty to practice their own religious traditions. Spiritual Humanism allows everyone to
fuse their individual religious practices onto the foundation of scientific humanist inquiry. We accept people from any religious
background and recognize the validity of all peaceful religious practices and behaviors as being helpful and necessary in
developing the spiritual nature of humanity.
Spiritual Humanism does not require
its members to perform any particular practices. Each person's spirituality has to be developed individually and everyone
is free to draw upon whatever religious tradition and behaviors are most appropriate for their own unique situation and background.
links below are a collection of suggested practical instructions on what you can do to improve your ability to reach your
own goals, focus your thoughts and efforts, and highlight your personal connection to the universe and the rest of humanity.
Learned Optimism is a technique
developed by Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania. Scientific studies have proven this method to increase
a person's ability to succeed at achieving their goals and generally be happier.
If you are not familiar with Learned
Optimism take this online assessment to learn more about yourself.
How to Meditate: Get in a comfortable sitting position in a quiet, candle lit place. It is preferable
to try and have your spine straight, but do what is comfortable. (It is not always good to lie down, as this may make you
sleepy. But again, do what works for you.) Get totally relaxed, make sure you have at least 10 minutes of undisturbed time.
Close your eyes. For a minute or so just breathe and pay attention to your breath. Breathe in and out. Focus on the sound,
smell, and feeling of the air that circulates through your body as your lungs expand and contract as you inhale and exhale.
If thoughts or images enter your mind, dismiss them and let them go as friends you will greet at another time. Always returning
you focus to breathing. Some find it helpful after a minute or so of relaxing, repeat to yourself the mantra calm." Do
this for a time period that is comfortable for you. Ten minutes is good, but little more or less is fine. When you are done,
just stay in this relaxed state a few minutes, with your eyes closed, before you return to your daily activities.
Observing holidays is a tradition
intertwined with spirituality. The depth of humanity's need for holy days and the biological connection to the earth's yearly
cycles are subjects that have not been satisfactorily researched.
Here are some astronomical events that have been
used to mark holy days in many different religions for thousands of years. Celebrating these events recognizes both the continuity
of humanity over thousands of years and how much we have progressed from the simple agrarians who depended upon astronomical
sitings for their survival. For further reading on these topics see here.
The Winter Solstice is the shortest
day of the year, with the sun at its lowest and weakest. In the Northern Hemisphere it usually occurs around December 21st.
pagan Scandinavia the winter festival was the Yule, celebrated by burning the hearth fires of the magically significant Yule
log. In the Celtic Druid culture, the Winter Solstice was celebrated by hanging sacred mistletoe over a doorway or in a room
to offer goodwill to visitors. Germanic tribes decorated a pine or fir tree with candles and tokens. The Inca held midwinter
ceremonies at temples that served as astronomical observatories like Machu Pichu.
Romans celebrated this event with
Saturnalia, a festival of merrymaking, and decorating their homes and temples with holly and evergreens. Also popular was
the exchange of small gifts thought to bring luck on the recipient.
In the fourth century AD, Christian authorities
in Rome attempted to eliminate the pagan festivities by adopting December 25th as Christs birthday. The effort was never completely
successful, and eventually many Winter Solstice customs were incorporated into Christmas observances.
Since so many
of these traditions have persisted for thousands of years despite extensive efforts to eliminate them, we think it best to
celebrate the Winter Solstice with these ancient customs, recognizing our links to the rest of humanity, past and present.
Spring or Vernal Equinox, also
known as Ostara, Easter, and St. Patrick's Day, occurs in the middle of March in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the beginning
of Spring and the time when days and nights are of equal length.
Megalithic people on Europes Atlantic fringe calculated
the date of the Spring Equinox using circular monuments constructed of huge stones. Germanic tribes associated it with the
fertility goddess Ostara. The Mayans of Central America still gather at the pyramid at Chichen Itza which was designed to
produce a "serpent" shadow on the Spring Equinox. The Ancient Saxons held a feast day for their version of the fertility goddess,
Eostre, on the full moon following the Vernal Equinox. Eostre is associated with the symbols of decorated eggs and hares.
influences from the worship of the goddess Ostara or Eostre have persisted in the form of fertility symbols of Easter eggs
and the hare or rabbit. By the use of these symbols of spring, rebirth, and fertility we reinforce our connection to humanity's
Summer Solstice, sometimes known
as Midsummer, Litha, or St. John's Day, occurs around June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a celebration of the longest
day of the year and the beginning of Summer.
The first (or only) full moon in June is called the Honey Moon. Tradition
holds that this is the best time to harvest honey from the hives and was a popular time to get married because of the events
association with fertility gods and godesses. Harvests of St. Johns Wort were used in potions and woven into garlands to decorate
and protect houses and domestic animals. Slav and Celt tribes celebrated with huge bonfires and people would jump over the
embers for luck. In Scandinavia women and girls ceremonially bathed in rivers.
In Portugal, people say that St. John's
Eve water possesses great healing power. Before dawn both cattle and young children bathed in rivers or dew, to ensure health
and strength. In Russia, the summer solstice celebration is called Kupalo. Kupalo comes from the verb kupati, to bathe, and
mass baths were taken on Midsummer morning.
Celebrating the Summer Solstice with bonfires and ceremonial bathing recognizes
and strengthens our connections to nature and humanity.
In the Northern Hemisphere the
Autumnal Equinox, occurs around September 23rd or 24th. It is also known as Michaelmas, Mabon, and Harvest Home.
the Japanese marked the spring and fall Equinox with higan, a seven day period in which they remember their ancestors by visiting
the family grave, cleaning the tombstone, offering flowers and food, burning incense sticks, and praying.
Feast of Greenery involves bringing bouquets and foods for blessing by a priest, then using them for medicine or keeping them
until the following years harvest. The Roman celebration of the Fall Equinox was dedicated to Pomona, goddess of fruits and
A feast was celebrated with a traditional well fattened goose which had fed well on the stubble of
the fields after the harvest. Another tradition of of the Autumnal Equinox is the use of ginger. All manner of foods seasoned
with ginger are part of the day's menu from gingerbread to ginger beer.
In England, the last sheaf of corn harvested
represented the `spirit of the field' and was made into a doll. Corn dolls were drenched with water representing rain or burned
to represent the death of the grain spirit. Large wickerwork figures were also constructed to represent a vegetation spirit
and burnt in mock sacrifice. Farmers and merchants gathered at fairs. Often a large glove was suspended above the fair, symbolizing
the handshake of promises and openhandedness and generosity.
The tradition of celebrating the end of summer with a
'burning man' has been enthusiastically revived in the US as a festival of performance art and creativity. Participating in
your own burning man celebration is a powerful way to connect with humanity, past and present.
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