The blessing of Friendship

orange tabby cat beside fawn short coated puppy

I think I made a new friend this week. And I didn’t even mean to.

After reading an article in our local paper declaring ‘Halloween derived from a Christian holiday‘, (it isn’t), I got a little peeved and took it upon myself to email the author and explain to her Halloween was merely the cross-quarter day between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice.

She surprised me by apologizing if she had offended me and displayed a considerable amount of knowledge about the holidays;

Dear Peni:

Thank you for the correction — the WORD Halloween means “All Hallow’s Eve,” the Eve of All Saints Day.  While it is true that the Christians in the British Isles and elsewhere “baptized” many Celtic and non-Christian holidays, including Christmas (Saturnalia–yep I do know that it is an arbitrary date), I like to remind certain “types of Christians” that Halloween is not honoring Satan.  I appreciate your education and knowledge — so rare — and have spent most of my life pushing back against a type of Christianity which encourages ignorance, prejudice, close-mindedness and superstition over knowledge, tolerance and curiosity.  (I believe that “God” gave us a brain to think with!!)  

BTW — Candlemas — celebrated February 3 — is another 1/2 way celebration, just between the Winter Solstice and the first day of Spring.  In England, it was a day to mark the first signs of thaw, and then the Christians “baptized” the earlier pagan celebration, but kept the idea of looking to see if it was cloudy or light (before Mr. Groundhog came along!!!) — there was even a song and rhyme to mark the custom  and a “beating of the bounds” to walk the boundaries (probably to asses which fields might be ready to till). 

So, while my facts were, technically speaking, straight, they were not comprehensive.  Please accept my apology if I offended you, and know that I appreciate many spiritual approaches — and even the courage of those who are a-theistic. 



This led to the continuation of a very interesting dialogue;


Thank you, Anne, for your apology. I was happily surprised to read you know the Pagan roots to even Groundhog Day! ( called Imbolc). Being a student of history and a Pagan myself, I have often wondered how different the world would be had the Roman Empire never embraced Christianity. Perhaps if the future generations of European explorers had remained Pagan, it would have prevented a lot of genocide throughout the “New World.”

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season and may 2020 be good to you.


Peni Jo Renner

I figured this correspondence had probably run its course, but this morning I discovered Anne had once again emailed me:

Dear Peni:

It is an interesting proposition!  Who knows how the world would be different.  Certainly the arrogance of Calvinism might not have infected the new world as much as it did (I really dislike Calvinists — which make up much of the Evangelical world!!!!) ….

I’m curious — and you do not have to reply if you don’t wish — Tell me more about your “handle” and why you chose “puritan?”  I think I get the “Wicca” part.   When did you become a Pagan?  Were you raised in a different tradition?  Do you practice in a community?    (It is nice to dialog with a person of differing spirituality who can be articulate!!!) 

In any case, as the days of the northern hemisphere shorten toward the winter solstice, may your life be filled with peace, the breath of life, the deepness of the heart of creation. 



Well I’ll be darned—I like this gal!

I had to get the last word in though (and answer the good woman’s inquiries!), so I replied this morning:

I think this is the beginning of an unexpected and joyful friendship, Anne! I got my “handle” from the title of my first novel, Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames.

I’m descended from 2 accused Salem witches (and 2 men from the Mayflower, btw), and my life’s dream was to write historical fiction so when I learned about these ancestors I fulfilled my dream and wrote 3 multi-award winning novels.

I was raised Christian in North Dakota, but I just never “got” it. No other spiritual paths were offered to me, so I began to explore other belief systems; Native American beliefs, Wicca, Taoism, Buddhism, etc. and you know what I discovered? Every belief system shares the same Universal Truths ( karma/ golden rule/ law of three is all the same thing, for example).  I call myself a spiritual ecclectic and recently joined SGI 

( Nichiren Buddhists). We meet in members’ homes and have no clergy. It’s vastly different from any form of spirituality I’ve every experienced.

I look at spirituality like this; the Divine (God, Goddess, Tao, whatever you want to call it)  dwells at the top of this mountain and we are all at the base of the mountain making our way to the top. Some climbers wander into others’ paths, some ( like Fundamentalists) scale the mountain with blinders on, not even acknowledging the “nonbelievers” to either side of him.

A Christian friend once told me, when Christ said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions,” that means Lutherans, Methodists, Catholics, Baptists and other Christian denominations. To me, it means Pagans, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and everyone else.

Have a wonderful thanksgiving, my new friend. If you are on Facebook. please consider giving my author page a Like.


OK, I’ll admit there are a couple of shameless plugs in that last bit of correspondence, but Anne seemed very interested and extremely inquisitive, so I thought I’d offer as much info as I could!

So on this Thanksgiving morning, I am, as always thankful for friendship, especially when it derives from unexpected circumstances!

Photo by Snapwire on




Meet Massage Therapist Emily Snodgrass!

emilyEmily Snodgrass is a massage therapist I had the privilege of meeting several weeks ago.  If you’re ever in the Boonesboro, Maryland area and want to treat yourself, check her out!

How long have you been a registered massage practitioner?

I am a relatively new Registered Massage Practitioner. I graduated in December of 2018 from a 750 hour 14 Month weekend program at Central Maryland School of Massage and was licensed to practice in Maryland by March of 2019. Since becoming licensed this year I have also taken 50.5 CEs in advanced Myokinesio Therapy of the Head, Neck, Shoulder, Arm, Hip and Thigh. I plan to take a total of 150 advanced CEs before October 2020. I am also interested in Sports Massage, Oncology Massage, and Prenatal Massage advanced continuing education. I am not sure what the future holds and if I will complete them by next fall. But we all have goals!

You list Swedish Massage as one of your services. How does it differ from other forms of massage?
Swedish Massage combines several different stroke techniques that can include effleurage, petrissage, tapping, shaking, rocking, gentle stretching with the primary goal to relax the entire body. Generally long gliding strokes in the direction of the heart are applied with a certain flowing transitioning that encourages your body to go into a state of relaxation. Deep Tissue can be more therapeutic and focus more on the deeper layers of muscle and trigger points.

Can you tell us the benefits of massage therapy?

There are many benefits and can be different for everyone. To maintain the benefits, it is best to be seen frequently. It is very relaxing, it can help to decrease anxiety, enhance sleep quality, improve circulation/concentration/range of motion, as well as many other benefits. It can be a helpful compliment to any self-care routine.

How often do you recommend your patrons have massage therapy?

It is different for everyone and depends on the clients goals. It really is a case by case basis. I listen to my clients and make suggestions on how often I would like to see them come back depending on what is going on.

Meet Life Coach Barbara Martin!

Barbara Martin is a Life Coach for Women In Transition, a wonderful organization that helps women find out what they want to do in lives. From Barbara’s site, she states:

As a life coach,  I help people get out of their own way and into the life they want.  I don’t tell people what to do, I help people find out what they want to do. I help Women in Transition, find out what it is that they want to pursue, career change, lifestyle change, or if they just want more joy.

Read below to learn more about Barbara and her mission. You may be able to benefit from her services!

Barb Martin Headshot thumbnail(1)1.What services does a Life Coach offer?  A Life Coach listens to you talk about your goals and help you develop an action plan to achieve your goals. Depending on what type of Life Coach you are connecting with you can explore limiting beliefs, set goals for your personal life or your business. You can set fitness and wellness goals, start a mastermind group or host a vision board play shop. Life Coaches help you explore areas where you are stuck and set goals to move forward, it is always about moving forward.

2. What do you find most rewarding as a Life Coach? The most challenging? I enjoy working with people and walking with them on their journey. I enjoy hearing people’s stories and helping them explore their options. I don’t think their is any downside to life coaching it is very rewarding.

3. Are your services available to women exclusively? I work with women. I would never turn anyone away that truly wanted to explore their limiting beliefs and move past and through their issues and set goals for their best life.

4. How long have you been affiliated with Women in Transition? I have been working with Women in Transition for 5 years. We offer one on one life coaching, walking and talking (one hour session of walking in the park and talking), vision board playshops, facilatating mastermind groups and group coaching.