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Setting of the Sun–a Harvest Lament

 

 

 

Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness, Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve; Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain: Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves; Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows, Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze; By and by the harvest, and the labor ended, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

If we leave off the final verse of Knowles Shaw’s 1874 hymn, it is perfectly workable for a Pagan harvest festival. We can feel the secondary and tertiary meanings, too, just like the intended Christian audience.

Lughnasadh. Lammas. First Harvest. Depending on the spiritual trad you follow, you may call this holy day by one of those names—or by another. Many Pagans conflate the first two but they are very different celebrations of the First Harvest. One is Irish and one is Christianed Saxon. One is games and homecoming. One is bread and the in-gathering of grains.

Every year, long about mid-July, there are Pagan folk in the Northern Hemisphere who start to complain about and boycott this holy day. They’re not farmers, they write, they are urban people who don’t get this whole harvest business. Or the weather where they live doesn’t feel like early autumn. Or they don’t practice a “Celtic” spirituality. Fair enough. Since we have not yet convened the Neo-Pagan Council at Nicaea nor pay fealty to a Pagan Pope, you are pretty free to celebrate this sweet cross-quarter day as you choose. I’m not sure why they can’t celebrate the abundance that fills the shelves of their local Whole Foods or treat the whole harvest idea as metaphor, as in “time to consider what I’ve ‘seeded’ this year and whether that has come to fruition” sort of thing.

But again…no Pope. No Council.

Not yet.

I personally love this holiday and have since the days of Notre Dame de l’Herbe Mouillee, that marvelous coven of memory. We often celebrated Lughnasadh by having a talent show, what is now referred to as a “bardic circle.” We weren’t so fancy in those days. Coven members showed off some skill or art. Kate and Geneva sang Sweet Georgia Brown in Polish. I played Danny Boy on the fiddle. Teleri belly danced. The W-J children made beautiful drawings.

The sun has set now and I have spent hours on the phone and on Messenger today, listening, talking, grieving the place so many stand right now. Fear and fury walk hand-in–-hand as we step into this festival. Is this the harvest we want? The harvest we expect in these Tower Times? Did we even plant these seeds, in the long ago springtime?

But my house is quiet now, at last. I can hear night insects in their chanting and I am drawn at once to my altar, to do my own soft prayers. And I repeat the circle cast I wrote so many years ago, when the directions were all honored with paeans of grain:

North: I remember how the seed-heads, tanned from the sun, stand in the wide fields near the river. I remember the threshing of the grain and the stretching stomachs it fills. I remember the bowl, with butter and sugar, and a man dressed as a Friend. In this time of the grain harvest, I call the Ancestors and the Guardians of the North with the strength of oats! You are welcome at our table! have them repeat this

East: I have planted the flat kernels in mounds the width of my hand. I have seen the shocking green of the stalks as they rise. The oldest peoples put a fishes head in the mound to feed the proud green spears. Tall spears to hold the other Sister. In this time of the grain harvest, I call the Ancestors and Guardians of the East with the bright yellow kernels of corn! You are welcome at our table!

South: I sing now of the loaf, of the fire of the sun made edible through the flailing of the grain. I sing now of the bright fire of food that is enduring, of food that is beautiful to see. I sing of grains that feed the people and straw that makes the bricks. In this time of the grain harvest, I call the Ancestors and Guardians of the South with the banked fire of wheat! You are welcome at our table!

West: I create a necklace of the pearls of barley. I create soup from the waters of the sea and the tears of my kindred, who passed into the West. I create the living vision of a shining new world. I create a passageway for my Descendents to greet my Ancestors. In this time of the grain harvest, I call the Ancestors and Guardians of the West with the perfect jewels of barley! You are welcome at our table!

 

And now the opening, as we open to this bountiful, troubling, problematic season:

West–Sweet pearls, rich grain. Barley of my people. Though our circle be open, we honor the West!

South–Bread-maker, brick-maker: wheat of the plains. Though our circle be open, we honor the South!

East–The tall sister, the one who stands: silk and husk of corn. Though our circle be open, we honor the East!

North-Tanned for the harvest, sweet beyond measure. Oats for our bellies. Though our circle be open, we honor the North!

The circle is open but never again broken. May the Goddess fill all hearts as the grains of Autumn come to harvest. Merry meet and merry part! And merry meet again!

However you choose to honor or not honor this time, let it be rich for you, and deep, and filled with meaning. For there is no time now for fads and faithlessness. May you make room for life and for joy.

Blessed Lughnasadh! Let the games commence!

 

 

 

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Something Big A-Rolling

into the woods

 

Yesterday, early in the morning, before the sun was rising, I had an odd feeling that I couldn’t quite peg.  I went to Facebook with one of my all-purpose advice balls and got an overwhelming response from my contacts there.

Since many people seem to also be feeling this unease, I thought I’d copy the postings here, for those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook.

Here it is:

Friends, I was called to my home altar in the night. Please ground, if you aren’t already. Ground deeply and get your shields up. Center yourselves as you may. Focus. Words to the wise in the gloaming of the world.

 Later in the day, I added this:

Many of you have responded to my early morning post about my late-night adventure. I’m not surprised–given who you are–that this affected you, too. I am discerning what this trigger is, so if you are “getting” further information about this intuitive alert, please pm me or respond on this thread. And…be safe, observe your world, love big. Also, fear not. #witchery #SleeplessinTowerTime

Again, there was a powerful response, both public and private. Today I elaborated a bit:

Gratitude for all of you who responded both publicly and privately to my puzzling experience yesterday. In my morning walk, as I peered at the greenness all around, I realized the feeling/premonition lingers in and around me. This is the way with some witches–we note a change, we examine it, we bring our best discernment processes to bear and sometimes we reach out to colleagues for further information. I am still deep in the discernment process, still gathering information. Thanks to all of you for your patience with my process. It is Tower Time, as I call it. We are asked to be strong, purposeful and open-hearted. Never a bad thing anytime. #witchery #LoveintheTimeofTowers

I’m still considering, pondering, wondering.  Thanks for listening.

 

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This Week

I’ve been posting on Facebook this week, leading up to the Women’s March today. I’ve put those pieces together here so I have a record of this powerful time. This place where we can practice love…in the time of the falling Tower.

 

The Week Before the Global Women’s March

Inauguration Day:

Knowing something of US history is a comfort as we face (the presidential) transition. The republic is flawed, for sure, the country polarized, the citizenry capable of disdain and hostility towards the parts of the nation that don’t conform to their standards, whatever those are. You do yourself no favor to think this is the worst or the best thing that has ever happened. It is neither. It is not as wonderful as some think nor as dire as others do. Try not to be surlier than necessary to the folks you have othered today. A republic is a tricky beast and requires an involved as well as informed citizenry. As a passionate member of this American culture, try to be a citizen today and not an obnoxious, self-serving jerk. Words to the wise.

Later, that same day…

While you are avoiding watching the inauguration (if you are doing that), please think about what you personally are going to do in your town or county to make the transition out of patriarchy and into the world we want. Community garden? Childcare co-op? Health center? Tai chi for elders in parks? Helping children with homework? Making art–music, theatre, poetry, sculptures, dance? Assign yourself to listen to people who need to be heard? What are you going to do, dear citizen, as the Tower falls and we rebuild the world?

 

 

Monday.

This week.

Begin this week with a song of praise–to the Earth, to the Divines, to your Ancestors. Ground yourselves deeply and get your shields up, singing them into place. There—that’s better. We are standing under a waning Moon, slipping into Dark Moon next week. Many of us are anxious and even fearful about the upcoming events. I will be here all week, bossing you around on social media and encouraging you to remember who you are.

So many of you have worked abiding processes for personal empowerment–well done, you. And now we are going to practice the uses of that sort of energy. Like a well-made blade, we will wield these potent magics in service to our communities, our circles, our kindred.

If you have neglected or removed your personal Ancestor altar–today is a good day to replace and refurbish it, to feed your bloodline. To re-member who you really are.

Breathe deep. Hold fast. Fear not, in these Tower Times. These are the times we were made for. Fear not. Fear not.

#LoveintheTimeofTowers #BeTheWitch #KickItDown

 

Tuesday.

This week.

You began with grounding on the Moon’s day. You honored your Ancestors. You fed them.

Today, take this noon-time to honor the land spirits that cluster around us and the ones that go about their business with no care or thought of us. Take them something shiny. A shining dime or a bit of mirror or some mica–take that outside for them, with maybe a piece of candy.

While you are there, in the world of the world, feel the solid foundation of the dear old Earth under your feet and renew your grounding. Remember the complex narrative that is your body and honor that, too.

Exercise your common sense and keep your wits about you. For this is the Tower Time we’ve been discussing for so long–days of dismay and courage, nights of reclamation and healing.

Tuesday.

Hold fast that which is good and, as always, fear not.

#bethewitch #LoveInTheTimeofTowers #danceontheashes

 

Wednesday.

This week.

In German, it is Mittwoch: the middle of the week. It is liminal, a gateway, the hidden door in the secret garden. You have been grounding deeply this week and raising your shields. In love and with respect, you have honored your Ancestors, the land, the Divines as you experience them.

Good.

Today, with one foot in the beginning and one foot in the end, straddling the doorway…today reach out with your hands and seize this time. Mid-day, mid-week, mid-month. Balance now your expectations and your fears, your courage and your vulnerability.

Holding fast to all those possibilities, feel the dear Earth’s energy flow up and through you, strengthening you, re-membering you.

You got this, this transitting white-water.

It’s Tower Time, as you well know.

Looking forward and holding fast to the good, the real.

Fear not. Fear not.

#bethewitch #LoveintheTimeofTowers #kickitdown

 

Thursday.

This week.

The energy is ratcheting up. Edges are crumbling. The center can’t hold.

Or can it?

You know what to do, beloveds. Pull up a swift protective circle and arrange your magics according to your skills.

Gather what you need from the hedges and edges. Create your clockwork shambles and set them in motion.

Join me now, in the center, in the heart, of this great working. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Kindred, our Ancestors, the ageless spirits of the land. We are a mighty cohort, patient, waiting.

A chord is struck. A bodhran speaks. The little pipes begin and the great pipes warm up.

We are readying ourselves for the exquisite moment.

Hold fast.

Fear not.

It is time.

#LoveinTheTimeofTowers #bethewitch #danceitdow

 

Friday.

This week.

Night has fallen in the southern highlands of the old Appalachian mountains. In my house, we are replacing the furnace, readying the gardens, preparing for our annual celebration of Rev. Charles Bryan at Burns Night.

This day has brought what we need and, for some of us, what we want. There is a wild swing amongst emotions on social media and in society. There is mourning and fury and joy and satisfaction.

Today I heard a train whistle and a love song and a woodpecker in the maple tree.

And I heard you.

We are standing at the gates, the great pipes skirling around us. We are fearless and proud, far-seeing, strategic, cunning.

There is a culture to heal and a world to build. There is healing to be found in the darkness, nestled in mystery. You are the weaver and the healer, the web and the seeker.

Tower Time. Engage it. Own it. These are the times we were made for.

Hold fast. Breathe deep. Fear not.

#LoveintheTimeofTowers #bethewitch #kickitdown

 

 

Saturday.

This week.

Dawn.

As the Sun rises on this day, my social media feeds feature words of determination, of comfort. Women are sending blessings, encouragement and sensible caution to marchers across the globe.

Very silly hats are everywhere, belying the strength and fury that strides beneath those perky ears.

Go ahead and underestimate this event, this moment, this action.

These women. Because this is different, this one. It has been building like an ancient relentless tsunami for so many generations, so many Moon cycles.

The energy surges not from the top down, not from the capitol to the wildlands, not from the civic plaza to the hearth. Reverse it. From heart to hearth to town square to county seat to state capitol to the boggy seat of the republic.

Underestimate it. We smile when you think that. We smile and plan.

We have brought a battering ram shaped like Eve and Gaia and Grandma to the gates of power. Wherever those gates stand. Even if they stand in our own souls.

It doesn’t begin today. It continues, this work of many hands and hearts. Spiral in, spiral out. A clockwork of deepest freedom, of desire, of joy.

We are come to kick it down. And to dance on the ashes. And to rebuild the world.

Breathe deep. Ground yourself in the dear old Earth.

Fear not.

#LoveintheTimeofTowers #bethewitch #kickitdown

 

 

 

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The Gem of the Ocean

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spinning a different sort of world

Social media is filled with the anguish of thoughtful people and also idiots, none of whom can see a clear way ahead in the current presidential race. America, as you will gather from their posts, is doomed no matter what the choice ultimately is. Some people are devastated that Sanders couldn’t unmake the political machinery with his tired, repetitive rhetoric. They have vowed to turn the reins of the stagecoach over to anyone ANYONE who isn’t part of the “Dem conspiracy” that kept the good and perfect man out, conveniently forgetting he isn’t a Dem and hasn’t been a Dem until it was expedient, and maybe the party was showing some favoritism towards a candidate that long ago made a commitment to the party and has been a loyal, if flawed, supporter.

Others believe, rightly or wrongly, that the Republican three ring Circus of Freedom has come up with a very dangerous candidate indeed. So many Hitler references, so many dire warnings. I personally think he is more Caligula than Hitler, coming gleefully at the end of this American experience, rubbing his hands in expectation of the disaster capitalist opportunities that will be spread before him.

There are more weird alternatives lurking in the Greens and Libertarians camps, as passionate and concerned citizens show us how very little they gleaned from a public education when it comes to how the Republic actually functions. I certainly admire the fire (though I still think Feel the Bern was oddly tone-deaf) but have wished more than once that they had had the benefit of closer attention in US History class. Or at least had watched more public television as they were growing up.

The rest of this already challenging year is going to be distasteful and annoying and (for some) dangerous. What’s a magic worker to do?

This next bit is specifically for my witch-folk but some will be applicable to those who have yet to step into our world. Here are a few ideas—

Don’t give in to the mass media’s drive to control where you put your focus. Focus is one of the great tools in a magic worker’s work-basket. Like corvids, we all love the shiny but let’s work a little harder not to let it rule us. It is shiny for a reason and that reason is rarely good.

Take time for your daily spiritual practice, whatever that may be. Sit at your home altar, walk through the woods, go to your church or temple. Pray, if you do that. Circle dance. Drum. Sing. Connect with the Divines and rest in the glorious agricultural cycle that Pagan religions are built on. Hel, that all religions are built on.

Sit upon the land where you live. Notice everything you can about it—drought or flood or perfect weather, what are the birds singing in the morning, how does the air smell at the end of the day. Be outside, even if the weather is uncomfortable. Pace yourself in heat and sun, splash in rain, touch leaves, walk in bare feet. Become a helpful part of your ecosystem as often as you can.

Remember that your Ancestors had a pretty crappy time of it and still managed to produce you and your ilk. They didn’t have the blessing/trauma of social media and somehow managed to know how friends and family were faring and even what their political opinions were. Amazing. They lived through Depression and pogrom, through hunger and insecurity, through loss and slavery and exile. Buck up, for fucks sake. Even in these times of roiling change, there is joy and music and love to be found, to be tended, to be enjoyed. Talk to your Ancestors. Ask them about fiddle music and evenings on the porch and fresh peach pie. Do that—talk to Them—even if they haven’t been around for centuries or you never knew Them. Do that even if They are dust. Gain some perspective.

Instead of giving in to despair and fear, maybe you could do the thing you claim you do. Maybe you could do some fecking magic. Yes, witches, magic. That thing you post memes about but never actually practice. Ahem. You can start by setting an intention, which will require you to strategize and decide what the best course of action might be. Yes, that again. And while you’re thinking of that, you could set an altar for the country you claim to have concerns about. There are plenty of examples of that in the Google-verse but you could use your imagination—give it some exercise—and come up with a national altar. You know the colors. You know the emblems. If the national conventions have taught us anything, it is what the symbols can be. Call in the Ancestors of the Nation, however you seen Them. Call in the Divines that hold sway. Libertas and Columbia and Uncle Sam? Sure, why not?

And instead of wringing your hands, biting your nails and fearing the future, engage all your resources and do some work. Yes, you. And me. And all we.

Did you forget who you are in the drama of this moment? Remember now. There is much work to do.

 

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Lighting Signal Fires in Tower Time

I’ve written rather a lot about Tower Time. For Cassandra figures like me, there is nothing satisfying about seeing visions come to fruition. We are experiencing the roiling change, the fear, the uncertainty that is almost programmatic in this enormous shift. Many communities are easily seen to be in peril but I say to you that all communities are thus.

Yes, the Veil is so thin as to be nonexistent, so if you are feeling your Ancestors and Descendents close to you, you are experiencing that. If your garden is flourishing and feels delightful, that is because it is filled with beings of delight that you can now perceive on some level. If you are not meeting with like-minded people to figure out where we as a species go from here, you had best get started. Time’s a-wasting, as we say hereabouts. This world is shuddering and shifting and moving out–it is up to all of us to decide the human worlds that will inhabit this physical space.

Perhaps we can refrain from the word-bombs and ego-lightning and get on with the reasons we’re actually here.

Something you may find helpful right now is to ground yourself deeply and shield yourself, too. Do all the self-care we’ve been discussing ad infinitem–hydrating, exercise, nutritious food. Holding fast to the good that you are and that you know.

Remember how strong you are and what you have already been through.

We are shaky now, frightened, angry. Go to your altar and renew your daily spiritual practice. Go outside. Remember, remember who you are and where you are, and your golden wild heart. Find your tribe and sit in circle with other tribes, either literal or virtual.

A thought, in love, from your village witch.

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A Morning In Early January

My usual habit for many years was to rise about 7am and hit the ground running. But lately I have found myself working late into the night and sleeping later in the morning. Not a bad thing. The quality of the rest is still good. The length of rest is appropriate.

But I am missing the sunrise and that needs to change.

I caught it a bit this morning but not the full glory that is an Appalachian winter sunrise. There’s much to learn in studying the clouds and checking the wind patterns. And there is much joy in hearing the day birds put on their work boots and get to it.

My continued exploration of homeliness continued yesterday with temple cleaning and tidying and continued last night with a massive cooking binge. A longtime member of our community is home-bound for a while as she heals and today is the day to visit and bring food.  My fridge has small containers of all sorts of edibles and I tried to be aware of healthy foods for her healing body. Though, to be honest,  I do think there’s a healing quality in macaroni and cheese, so there’s some in there, too.

That’s homely–that flotilla of recyclable containers–so let’s add in the magical piece of it, too.  With every stirring and with every burp of those lids, I added in a spell for wellness. And a prayer for a better 2016 than she had in 2015.

That’s my wish for us all.

PUF 2014 043

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A Long Season of Imbolc

 

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Brideog from the weekend retreat

Samhain usually seems impossibly long, mostly because there are so many things to do, so much preparation for the powerful hinge that happens as Winter descends. We grown used to it after all these years of doing public rituals and events. And when mid-November arrives, we’ve taken some time off and slept in a couple of times and are eyeing the Winter Solstice.

I prepped for Imbolc, as you know, by adapting some of the material from Alexander Carmichael’s “Carmina Gadelica.” A set of new Brigid prayers, ready for, well, for praying.

I went to the Brigid spring to nab some water and leave some love. I attended a small and powerful Brigid event at Mother Grove and created and led a public ritual the following evening.

This past weekend, a colleague and I led a Brigid retreat that was deep and rich. And tiring.

So I had a bit of a break on Monday and tried turning my thoughts towards the Vernal Equinox. But I started putting away the clouties and the Wheels. I put the candle from Kildare back in its green box and put the triple Brigid on my altar.

And what I’m thinking of doing tomorrow?  Adapting a few more of those Carmichael-collected incantations.

Nah…I don’t think Imbolc is quite finished with me yet.