Tag Archives: Wheel of the Year

Mid-October PotPourri

autumn-virginia-creeper-diane-alexander

* This morning, I drove to work through Autumn fog. Occasionally, the thick moisture would part to reveal asters in mad bloom along the banks of the Potomac River. As I crossed the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge, I saw my favorite Autumn tree: a white-barked sycamore, with golden-yellow leaves. A huge Virginia Creeper vine has reached almost to the top of the tree and its leaves are brilliant crimson. The vine really isn’t good for the tree, but, just now, the color combination, shining out of the fog, takes away my breath. If you pay attention to your landbase, it will talk to you. What’s yours saying these days?

* I adore Rima and (full disclosure) am lucky enough to own a few pieces of her art. And some of Tom’s poetry is copied into my own Book of Shadows. And so, in spite of the fact that Jason Pitzl-Waters‘ more-than-worthy campaign got the largest chunk of this quarter’s Hecate Donation Money, I’m going to scare up a bit for Rima and Tom. Come along with me if you’ve paid down your debts and have a few month’s salary in the bank. If not, maybe you can post their plea on your own blog, Book of Faces, Twit thing?

* Leonard Cohen is one of my oldest and most passionate crushes. He just turned 80 and, quoting his old Buddhist teacher, keeps saying, “Excuse me for not dying.” I hope that he’s with us as long as he likes.

I love the lyrics to Come Healing:

Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace
O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind
O see the darkness yielding
That tore the light apart
Come healing of the reason
Come healing of the heart.

May it be so for you.

Picture found here.

Wednesday Evening Poetry Blogging

dark_samhain_by_antareswolf-d5j339a
Samhain

~ Annie Finch

(The Celtic Halloween)
In the season leaves should love,
since it gives them leave to move
through the wind, towards the ground
they were watching while they hung,
legend says there is a seam
stitching darkness like a name.

Now when dying grasses veil
earth from the sky in one last pale
wave, as autumn dies to bring
winter back, and then the spring,
we who die ourselves can peel
back another kind of veil

that hangs among us like thick smoke.
Tonight at last I feel it shake.
I feel the nights stretching away
thousands long behind the days
till they reach the darkness where
all of me is ancestor.

I move my hand and feel a touch
move with me, and when I brush
my own mind across another,
I am with my mother’s mother.
Sure as footsteps in my waiting
self, I find her, and she brings

arms that carry answers for me,
intimate, a waiting bounty.
“Carry me.” She leaves this trail
through a shudder of the veil,
and leaves, like amber where she stays,
a gift for her perpetual gaze.

Picture found here.

Radical Turning Inwards

autumn-reflections-trevor-slauenwhite

Today was chilly and wet here in the Magical MidAtlantic. The top of my euonymous bush is bright red. There’s no denying it; it’s Autumn. I spent the day getting out the Samhein decorations. It’s the one holiday for which I really, really decorate.

Landscape Guy and I are working at getting the garden put to bed, painting before Winter comes, plotting for next year.

It’s time to slow down, become introspective, give ourselves a chance to compost, think, dream. I think sometimes that everything in our culture works to prevent us from doing these things. If we aren’t being pushed to do, do, do, do, do, do, do, we’re being offered one form of mind-numbing entertainment after another. Isn’t there a reality show on tv or an electronic game on the console? Ivo Dominguez talks about how the overculture encourages us to fall under the enchantment of forgetfulness — how it tries to make us forget that everything is connected. It’s a pervasive spell and one that slips up on us stealthily and steadily.

And, so, it can be radical work, the work of an activist, to refuse to go along, to insist upon allowing our bodies and our spirits to follow the natural cycle of the Wheel of the Year.

Make a cup of tea. Light a candle. Sit with your journal, or your paints, or your knitting needles. Center. Ground. Listen.

Picture found here.

Loss

cornucopia3

We often speak of Autumn as the season of harvest. It is often represented by an overflowing cornucopia spilling apples, pears, corn, pumpkins, brown nuts, and heads of golden wheat. This is the time when we can begin to rest a bit and consume the fruits of our labors. Winter and Spring may be lean times and Summer may require hard work in hot fields (at least here in the South), but Autumn brings more comfortable weather and (if we’ve been both industrious and lucky) enough to eat. Time to be grateful, take stock of all that we have, maybe even feast a bit with family and friends.

And, yet.

Autumn is also a season of loss. The veils grow thin and we remember our Beloved Dead (and, if your family was like mine, some of our not-so-Beloved Dead, as well). The trees lose their leaves — because they are no longer needed. We pull the now-exhausted squash vines and pepper plants out of the garden and throw them into the compost pile. The warm sun makes shorter and shorter appearances and the birds gather in flocks to head away down South. The landscape becomes sere, almost barren. Fog rolls in and obscures what was once clear.

We don’t do too well with loss, here in the Patriarchial States of Western Civilization. Loss seems a lot like death and Patriarchy has a huge shadow relationship with death. On the one hand, it runs on death, selling bigger and better (and more expensive) ways to kill as many people as possible. Movies, tv shows, and video games show death every few minutes and encourage us to view it as exciting, fun, inevitable, a sign that justice has prevailed. Open-carry ammosexuals flaunt their guns in restaurants, outside schools, at town halls where the President speaks. On the other hand, we hide death. Our old people die in hospitals, away from public view. Millions of dollars are spent to extend our old age even a few more weeks, often at the cost of comfort and humanity. Look away from death, we are told: Go towards light, and life, and love, and joy! (How interesting that it is in Autumn, the season of loss, when we celebrate our fear of death. Only at this time of year do we see pictures of graveyards, plastic skeletons hanging in trees in our neighbors’ yards, headless horsemen (ah, an Americanization of the Wild Hunt!), and ghosts in store windows.)

But to be a Witch is to reject the false duality of Patriarchy, to embrace the dark along with the light, to refuse to make an enemy of our own death. We can use the tools of the Craft to deal with our losses in a responsible, Witch-like way, rather than in the irresponsible, puer-tainted way that Patriarchy encourages.

We can ground and center.
We can breathe.
We can sit with our loss for as long as is good.
We can trance and invite our loss to talk to us, to chant for us, to dance with us as the leaves fall.
We can do ritual around loss.
We can compost our loss, sending it to where “all things become another — in the Mother, in the Mother,” allowing it to make the ground fertile in preparation for the day when we attempt to grow something new.
We can meditate upon the Wheel of the Year and see its cycles in our own lives, reminding ourselves that it always turns and no season lasts forever.
We can create art around our loss, letting Younger Self teach us things about our loss that we didn’t even know that we knew.
We can talk about loss with each other.

How do you deal with loss?

May you enjoy your Autumn harvest and may your Autumn losses inspire you to Witchcraft.

Picture found here.

And Round and Round

And, so it is (pace Winston) the middle of the end of Summer.

I wake up when it is still dark and it turns dark when I am still sitting out on the porch, knitting, or writing, or reading for work. I know that I have only a few more weeks of being able to eat breakfast out there (even adding my bathrobe) and then only a very few weeks beyond that for dinner.

Acorns have begun to drop from onto my roof, making the sound that only acorns make. Whenever I hear them, I remember my first year in this little cottage. I moved here at the beginning of October and the four surrounding oak trees (two of them are gone now) dropped acorns every few minutes onto the roof. The sound scared my sweet cat, Miss Thing — she was always skittish and high-strung; if she’d been a girl, a pea several mattresses below would have bruised her. And so I’d pet her, and she’d calm down, and then another acorn would hit the roof. I love the sound, although it means that I have to step carefully on my way each morning to the car; stepping on an acorn is like stepping on a marble. The squirrels love the large, flat stones that Landscape Guy laid down for my walkway; they think those stones are custom made for cracking acorns and, indeed, they are. But every now and then the busy squirrels forget one and I don’t want to step on a rolly-polly, hard, round acorn — and fall.

The Queen Anne’s Lace has gone to seed weeks ago and even the Black-Eyed Susans are through with their blooming, although the goldfinches are still pulling seeds from them and from the daisies that I should have deadheaded two weeks ago. My cottage gardens are down to obedient plant. In a week or two, the toad lilies will bloom and then (hopefully, given last Winter’s chill) the Autumn camellias. After that, it’s a long wait until the first little crocus blooms in the southern bed off of my deck, generally in early March.

There are still tomatoes, and peaches, and plums, and fat ears of corn at the farmers’ market, and the doughnut lady asks every weekend after G/Son, but I can see the shift to apples, and acorn squash, and brussels sprouts. Oysters and cider, Virginia ham and sweet potatoes, mustard and kale.

This weekend, I’m going to pull out all of the squash plants, pick the last of the peppers, cut off all of the cardoons, and put in Winter crops: chard, spinach, carrots, fast lettuces, beets. For me, it’s the work of a priestess, a part of being in relationship with my landbase. In a few more weeks, I’ll plant garlic. I’ll keep picking basil and making small batches of pesto until we get a really hard freeze. If I can find time, I’ll freeze some tarragon butter and some thyme butter. Maybe make some shortbreads with rosemary, tarragon, thyme.

All this Winter, I’ll be making soup from the vegetables and herbs that I’ve frozen.

A Witch’s job is to turn the Wheel, and round and round the Wheel must turn.

May your shoulder nudge the Wheel. May the Wheel shift under your shoulder.

A Song for Lughnasadah

Lughnasadah’s Coming