02 August 2012
I'm getting older. Those who were my students, old friends, have since moved on, ahead, are elsewhere now. My sabbat celebrations are more private, more personal, and often involving a few candles (if that), a whiff of incense (if that), and me with a horn or glass or sometimes even just a pottery mug of something lovely and a few moments of silent meditation on that same wooden deck under a canopy of clouds and stars.
I wish I were baking bread. A voice tells me that I "should" be. I wish my home were full of good, stout, hearty heathen people. A voice tells me it "should" be. I miss the conversations. I miss the laughter in the kitchen. I miss the slightly drunken awkwardness, the tender moments of understanding, the embraces from people one loves and only manage to see at particular times of the year. I think of them often.
Lammas, for many, is the first of the three great harvest rites and celebrations for Paganfolk. Right now comes the harvest of the grains, where many of us are enjoying the sensation of pummeling our fists into yeasty masses of dough and enjoying the fire of our household hearths to see them rise and bake as bread. In this way, many of us contemplate the successes, the failures, the circumstances... that is, the harvests that we are sinking our teeth into at this moment in time. What did we hope for during last winter, when all was dark? What did we seek to create when it was spring, when we set out to plant newness?
The maypole has since been danced and we've had the embraces of our lovers. The summer is almost passed, and now we stand before the feasting table and see before us the results of all of our labours and desires and developments and trials and wishes that we may, or may not, have entirely worked for.
What have you worked for? Is it here? Can you bite into it now, like a roasted corn cob with butter seething down your happy chin, or are the apples from your orchard withered and dry for lack of rain?
The great feast, the autumn equinox, is coming. Do you have time to catch up on your goals? The feast of souls, Samhaintide, looms after. When the need for winter's contemplative darkness returns, will you be able to tell yourself that you met your challenges with zeal and purpose? When you mark the harvest of flesh, will there be salt to preserve the meats that you'll need to sustain on as your move toward another year of living, hoping, being, doing?
What, exactly, will be on your table? What, exactly, have you achieved thus far? What, exactly, can you drink to when you raise that dripping horn, that elegant crystal glass, that consecrated cup toward the gradually darkening sky?
I am getting older. My days are more quiet. I am contemplating future goals. Looking upon the table before me, I take in the full view of the present realities of my own personal world and existence. It shows me what dreams have not been fulfilled, what actually does presently exist, what it is that I actually "have." In that recognition, I breathe deep and consider what it is that could be built from where it all is at the moment. But not before I rationally See what stands before me, good and bad, rich and poor, fulfilling and lacking, joyful and sorrowful, resplendent and vacant, desired and lost, open and closed.
And what am I willing to sacrifice, with a handsome knife, to make future dreams come true? What is it that shall I cut? And do I have the courage to mark that cut with a harvest dance and tuns of mead and songs in the night wind to help drive home the fundamental message that everything changes, and that to fail to embrace the change is to fail to be present and open to taste Her future gifts?