Do you want to connect with 6-12 people around a theme, interest, creative endeavor, or spiritual question?
Do you already organize, facilitate or participate in a Small Group, Book Discussion, Circle, or regular small gathering in-person at UCV or through UCV Zoom? Tell us about it! www.ucv.im/small-groups-form
Vancouver Unitarians vision is for a more compassionate world. At UCV we deepen our spiritual and religious lives, grow and enrich our congregation, and advocate for love and justice.
To connect folks, new and old members alike, to deep meaningful community, Kiersten and Derrick need to know what is already going on, what you are looking for, what possibilities you imagine, and what you want to create.
To re-vitalize our directory of small groups, join an existing group, or create a new one, please use this form: www.ucv.im/small-groups-form
Samhain (saw-wen) is a version of “summer’s end” and we’re experiencing that now. In pagan traditions, this is seen as the “new year”. It’s a time to remember our “beloved dead” and at UCV a much-loved worship service is Encountering Our Ancestors, this year on October 31st. Once again we’ll be creating an ancestors’ shrine and a “day of the dead” altar.
We will host an open ritual for the Winter Solstice on Tuesday, December 21. All welcome – Unitarians, pagans, families, and friends.
The UCV pagan group is approximately 40 people in total. We connect with each other through an email list by sharing information and invitations. We encourage everyone to take initiative by sharing their knowledge and energy. We meet approximately every six weeks to celebrate the eight “sabbats” (solstices, equinoxes and cross-quarter days).
We have now started two small groups so that people can get to know each other better. Each group creates their own plan as to when and where they meet and how and where they gather. If there’s interest, we will start a third group. If interested, fill out this form and comment on what you’d like. Open of course to those who are just curious about pagan traditions.
There’s a garden near the parking lot that’s looked after by the Earth Spirit/Pagan group. You are welcome to snip some herbs for drying, decoration or tea! You’ll know it because it’s the one with stakes with labels of the various herbs: sage, lavender, mint, etc.
There are several different kinds of mint there. And they’re about to die down for the winter, so please harvest:
If you haven’t tried sage tea or adding rosemary or lavender, those are nice as well.
If you’re making something savoury for Thanksgiving, pick some sage, thyme, or rosemary to add. These plants like to be regularly clipped back.
There’s also some chives and arugula for clipping.
Please leave the echinacea to go to seed, but pick the rudbeckia (brown-eyed susans).Indeed these cheerful and hardy flowers spread and we’d like to remove most of them from the herb garden so if you have a place to plant something (or willing to help move some to our labyrinth), please contact Mary and make arrangements.
Many people like to use herbs for a seasonal wreath or swag. Or even a Hallowe’en broom!
Not exactly an herb, but there’s kale there for picking as we’re wanting to plant new things. Please take!
There’s lavender, rosemary, thyme and sage around the labyrinth. Feel free to pick. The garden path is adjacent to the Fremlin side – ie east side of the property. Take a walk around it and pick whatever you like. It’s a scent-sation.
Most people have tried mint tea, and we have a growing selection of mints – in pots! pineapple mint, chocolate mint and “ordinary” mint. Really you can just take some, crush it a bit to release the flavour and scent, and add to hot water. Or you can make a mix and try it out. To dry, just pick and hang upside down in a cool dark place.
Here are some recipes.
Recipes for teas
Ginger syrup recipe – makes 1 litre/ quart
¼ cup cane sugar
3 ¾ cups water
1/3 c. (approx.) thin sliced fresh ginger root, unpeeled
Put all ingredients into a pot and heat for 3-5 minutes or until it is steaming but not boiling. Remove from heat, stir and let cool. If possible leave overnight to cool and then remove ginger pieces.
Put one slice of lemon into the bottom of the jar or container for ginger syrup. *
Mint tea – for 6 litre / large container
Cut garden mint the day before. About 6 – 8 cups before washing, sorting and trimming. Choose stems with the largest leaves.
Cut stems to remove roots, discard any damaged or yellowed or too small leaves or stems. Cut stems short enough to fit into the salad spinner or the large glass container that will hold the tea.
Place bunches of stems into a salad spinner after all the stems have been soaked in a large container completely covered in water for 20 – 30 minutes.
When the bunches of mint have been processed lay them in the bottom of the large tea jar until the container is ¼ to 1/3 full. Boil water and pour over leaves until the container is more than half full or double the depth of the layers of mint. Can be up to 2/3 full of water. Leave overnight to cool with the mint in place.
Remove all the stems of mint once it has completely cooled in the morning. Add ice to the container before serving if you wish to have the tea chilled.
Other teas and herbs:
Black Tea – Just add other herbs if you wish.
Cut some lemon balm stems as well. Wash and place them in a jar. *
To serve tea:
Place lemon balm leaf into bottom of the cup, pour in a tsp or so of the ginger syrup and then fill up with the mint tea.
* Refrigerate these overnight
What’s in the garden labyrinth?
Pick some fresh herbs to make or add to tea as you walk. A pinch of this; a pinch of that.
The following are available.
mints and lemon balm (in pots on west side of labyrinth)
To find suggestions and health benefits, just google “sage tea benefits” etc.
The days are noticeably shorter and after the heat dome in the summer, many of us are welcoming the autumn days that bring a cooler, but still warm, temperature outside. As a gardener, I am grateful for the harvest that is still coming. There are herbs for drying or crafts in the UCV Earth Spirituality herb garden.
The UCV pagan group is approximately 40 people in total. We connect with each other through an email list by sharing information and invitations. We encourage everyone to take initiative by sharing their knowledge and energy.
Our group plans to host two “public rituals” – celebrations for the sabbats (for example winter and summer solstice) that we will invite anyone in the community to attend.
We are also now coordinating small groups using the covenant group model. If you’re interested, fill out this form:
There are two upcoming sabbats (sun celebrations). If you want to plan a solitary or small group celebration with friends you’ll find lots of suggestions online for decorating your home, planning activities and readings.
Mabon – Autumn Equinox
This celebrates the second of three harvest periods. It’s a time of balance.
Samhain – Hallowe’en
This is the new year for pagans and when the veil is thinnest between the living and the dead.
UCV honours this time with a special worship service, Encountering Our Ancestors, and creating an Ancestors Shrine.
If you want to know the exact day and time of solstices, equinoxes and moon phases, we recommend this website: timeanddate.com
There are many opportunities to garden at UCV. Some of our members have home gardens and more than enough on their plate managing that, but others live in condos or apartments and enjoy the chance to beautify our grounds and enjoy the company of others who love dirt! This year a group that started with a mystery pal connection have collaboratively planted, harvested and learned together.
Work with a crew once a month
Once a month on the 3rd Saturday a crew arrives and Patti Turner helps them find things that work for them and help keep our extensive grounds and gardens looking good. Patti brings home-cooked snacks! There’s a role for you whatever your physical constraints or abilities and interests.
Help with the labyrinths
Our garden path labyrinth can always use work and a couple of us get together on a spontaneous schedule if it looks like a good day. If you’d like to join us, or know some regular tasks that need doing that you can do on your own time, just drop Mary Bennett a note. Mary’s also been planting drought-resistant plants around the concrete labyrinth to keep the weeds back. Fall is a good time to move a few things around and add some snowdrops and grape hyacinths for the spring.
Vegetable gardens on north side
You may have noticed the vegetable gardens on the north side of the property. These were first put in after digging up lawn (we have a lot of it, and are lessening it over time) in the mid-90s. At the same time, we put heather on the SW corner and a herb garden on the south side.
The farthest west gardens are for the Children’s program. Yvonne and Megumi tend to manage it, but welcome ideas and help from kids and youth.
Free Herb Garden
The farthest east has two sections. The upper part was looked after by Mairy Beam and Mary Bennett and is now a Pagan group Free Herb Garden. We often pick and share the herbs with the earth spirit circle. We’ve been making stakes to label the herbs. You are welcome to pick any time.
More details here: https://vancouverunitarians.ca/herbs/
Mystery Pal (Plus) Garden)
The lower part started as a Mystery Pal project with Cynthia and Gaon and now has a team of 8 involved.
Veggie Plots in the Middle Area
The largest area in the middle is divided into a number of smaller plots from 3′ square to about 4′ x 6′.
The gardeners there include:
Megumi/Amy Anderson (Love Soup)
Cayla, Jill and Sebastian (garlic collective)
Southern 3 boxes
The southern three boxes are prioritized for our families or mystery pal pairs/groups. They’re about 3′ (one meter) square, so you could plant just a few items–low maintenance–and others would likely help you if you need it!
Would you like to have a vegetable garden area at UCV — or work with others on their plots?
Would you like to have a small plot of your own either for yourself or to support a program at UCV? You could do it as part of a pair or group or on your own.
Mary’s been working on helping new gardeners find a plot of a size that works for them and over time building up the very clay-y soil with compost and dried leaves.
There’s some space available for another plot or two, including a raised bed near the sidewalk that wouldn’t require much bending. It might work for someone in a wheel chair even. Contact Mary if you’d like to take on a plot.
Coming this fall: a rhubarb patch. In the spring we’ll harvest and share with a congregational group. Maybe Messy Church if it starts up again. Bakers will be needed to harvest rhubarb and put into something like muffins!
Adopt a little area
Once people start gardening at UCV they quickly begin to notice the expanse of the property and the need for many hands to make light work. Some years ago, there was a suggestion that individuals might “adopt an area” – perhaps even a very, very small area and take it on to weed, water and perhaps even plant.
Is there a spot you’ve noticed needs some pruning or weeding?
Talk to Patti if you are ready to adopt a section of the grounds. She’d love to hear from you.
Did you know UCV has had a “Pagan Committee” for over 20 years?
When Louise Bunn, creator of the Unitarian curriculum Paganism 101, asked about how to form an ongoing group for pagan (aka earth spirituality) gatherings, she was told that the only organizational structure we had was committees. So a committee it was! Since then there have been times when a pagan group was very active, sometimes organizing rituals for 40 or 50 people; and other times when interest waned and then… somehow like the rhythms of nature mentioned in the 6th Unitarian source, a new group would spring up.
Over covid times, the most active part of what we’ve recently been calling the “earth spirit” group has been our 40-member email group where members sometimes post reminders about the seasons or the phases of the moon, informational links and an invitation to an occasional zoom event. We (mainly Mairy Beam!) coordinated several gatherings in the past year: two outdoors and five over zoom.
Now, with restrictions lifting and the weather grand, we’re encouraging people to gather on the beautiful grounds of UCV: come on your own–or invite a few friends–and walk the labyrinth; pick some herbs, or even help tend the new earth spirit herb garden or participate in a circle dance or ritual. Plans are still being considered, but we hope there will be a Lammas ritual in late July or early August. I, for one, want to dance around that tree again for World Circle Dance on Sunday, July 11th.
While summer is often a slow time for events, it’s also when a lot of planning happens for the fall start up. As we rest, travel, walk, read, ideas incubate – and so we’d like to invite you to fill out a survey if you’re interested in “earth spirit/pagan” activities at UCV. https://forms.gle/1eLgGe2t9LPpFXEb8
It looks long, but as it’s multiple choice and you can skip any questions that aren’t relevant, it only takes a couple of minutes. And you get to see what others say.
Would you like to learn more about pagan practices? Make your own wand or broom? Meet with others to socialize and ritualize? We might just be able to put you together with others who have the same interests!
Meanwhile, Louise has led or co-led the Paganism 101 program about 8 times since the first one in 1999 and would love to see it offered again, with a team that she could support, but not lead herself. If you’d like to be part of a team like that, please contact Louise at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thirty people helped to create an orange installation on our corner and magically (with hard work) transform a labyrinth full of buttercup weeds into a bright orange spectacle.
Throughout June, Indigenous Peoples Month, we expect to host more gatherings to make sure both sites remain beautiful and invite our neighbours and our own community to come and participate.
49th and Oak Corner
With the terrible news about the abused and murdered children buried in a mass grave at the Kamloops residential school, I wanted to do something at UCV to acknowledge the pain and reflect our growing awareness and demands for change. The UCV community had already agreed to donate money to the IRSSS (Indigenous Residential School Survivors Society), but I wanted to also put on a public face to remind others not in our community that we ALL need to care and remember.
What started out as an idea to put a few children’s toys by the trees, grew into an act of community solidarity and art.
On Saturday June 5, while volunteers planted 215 marigolds into the labyrinth, about a dozen adults and children braved the traffic noise at the corner of Oak and 49th to cover the UCV sign and nearby trees with orange ribbons, flowers, tshirt cutouts and signs. A project to attach 215 strands of wool to a clothes line was started as a visceral example of how large a number 215 is!
The rains came at night and the ribbons and signs are soggy. We will need to refresh the signs, add more wool strands (because 215 is only the start) and straighten the ribbons next week.
Perhaps this is the first time we’ve decorated our corner?! Let it not be the last.
215 orange flowers on the labyrinth
This vision just popped into my head as I, like many, started thinking: but what can *I* do? There’s so much that can be done and I’m very proud to be part of UCV as we’ve made a statement and donated money.
I so appreciate the number of people who brought flowers, worked long and hard to prep the labyrinth (it was badly in need of weeding) and then planted the orange blooms. Plus there are 48 nasturtiums not yet in bloom. It will “orange-up” over the next while.
What moved me most was the number of side conversations I witnessed as we worked – and connected with each other over the time.
Thank you to our minister, Rev. Lara Cowtan, for beautiful and moving words and an ongoing pastoral presence.
(There are still a few buttercups and lots of grass where it shouldn’t be, so if you’re ever inclined to spend a couple of hours there, do please contact me and we can set something up.)
Message from the Outreach Opportunities Fund Committee.
A $3000 donation from the balance of the OOF account has been made by UCV, effective immediately, to support the work of the Indigenous Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS).
In order to support the increased demand for their services, the IRSSS will also be the recipient of the OOF effective July 1.
As we all know, the impact of residential schools on the Indigenous population has been profound. The IRSSS was established with the mission to provide physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual growth, development, and healing through culturally-based values and guiding principles to residential school survivors, their families, and those dealing with Intergenerational traumas.
We revisit a talk given by Dr. Mark Winston on his book tentatively titled, Dialogue in Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive
Earth Day April 22, 2012
Dr. Mark Winston Guest Speaker
Dr. Winston is recognized as the world’s leading expert on bees and pollination.
Bees are in trouble today. And bees have something to teach us. It’s about the resilience of nature, human hubris, and the limits to our human ability to manage climate change
According to Dr. Winston, there are over 20,000 species of wild bees, many hundred species of wild bees in Canada, and 57 species of wild bees in Vancouver. Wild bees nest in the ground, in twigs and in abandoned mouse dens. Honey bees (domesticated bees) were introduced to British Columbia in about 1857.
Dr. Winston says, honey bees are telling us we can only push things so far. Wild bees are telling us that diversity is good. Providing space for that diversity is to our human advantage. Bees are not the same as people. But like us bees are social and live in communities that interact with the nature around us. …
For 2021, let’s celebrate a whole collection of summer holidays (holy days) for one grand summer festival honouring all people and other beings while bearing witness to the challenges that call Unitarians to keep on working for justice…
My covenant group met on Canada Day in 2020 and we shared some thoughts about what we liked and disliked about Canada Day. There were many things we appreciated about Canadian culture and political systems, and also many areas where we felt we still fell short and needed to keep on working. Following are some celebrations we could perhaps honour next year leading up to a more complete and satisfying celebration of Canada Day. (Ah…but who amongst us might take the lead!)
Yoga is practiced in various forms around the world and continues to grow as a sport and a lifestyle. Traditional yoga has a meditative and spiritual core in addition to the physical exercises. The result is a wide variety of schools, practices, and goals within the yoga community. It is because of yoga’s holistic approach to body and mind that the UN decided in 2014 to dedicate June 21 to this ancient tradition.
“Yoga is a sport that can contribute to development and peace. Yoga can even help people in emergency situations to find relief from stress.” said Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General.
The United Nations’ Public Service Day is held on June 23 each year. It recognizes that democracy and successful governance are built on the foundation of a competent civil service. The day aims to celebrate the value and virtue of service to the community.
International Widows’ Day was introduced to address poverty and injustice faced by widows and their children in many countries. It was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2010 and is observed annually on June 23.
The people of Québec celebrate their national holiday with more than 750 celebrations held across the province on 23 and 24 June. Organized by nearly 20,000 volunteers, the festivities of the Fête nationale include more than 1,050 events and 360 bonfires, in addition to some of the largest public gatherings in Québec.
In 2010, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), decided to designate June 25th as the International Day of the Seafarer as a way to recognize that almost everything that we use in our daily lives has been directly or indirectly affected by sea transport. The purpose of the day is to give thanks to seafarers for their contribution to the world economy and the civil society; and for the risks and personal costs they bear while on their jobs.
Rehabilitation centres and human rights organizations around the world celebrate the UN’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on June 26 each year. The day serves as a reminder to people that torture is a crime. This event gives everyone a chance to unite and voice their opinions against human torture.
Organizations, including the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims and Amnesty International, have played an active role in organizing events around the world to promote the day. Activities may include photo exhibitions, the distribution of posters and other material to boost people’s awareness of issues related to human torture, and television advertisements.
June 30 is the anniversary of the Tunguskaimpact, also known as the Tunguska event. On that day a large explosion occurred in the sky over the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Siberia, Russia.
It destroyed about 2,000 square kilometers (770 square miles) of the forest in the area, flattening about 80 million trees. The area is sparsely populated, and there were no official reports of human casualties.
It is thought that an asteroid or a comet was responsible for the blast. The Tunguska event is considered to be the largest asteroid impact on Earth in recorded history.