Monthly Archives: July 2016

Happy Harvest

The First Harvest

The garden is in full bloom with tomatoes, kale and a variety of herbs.  Trees are heavy with greenery and the Killdeer birds wake me early with their songs.  This morning, it was unusually cool as I sat on the back-porch watching the blue jays frolicking in the large oak tree who’s shade I’ve enjoyed all summer long.  The harvest can be felt approaching for those of us who work closely with the seasonal tides.  It can be seen as twilight approaches with more haste.

I’ve lived in the Heartland for most of my life, surrounded by farmers.  This time of year, the tractors are moving from field to field.  If your out early, you know that traffic jams are not the result of too many cars around here.  When I see these machines gilded with teeth and claw,  I think back to the days when having a garden in the yard was a necessity and people worked it with minimal tools and their bare hands.  A grateful feeling wells up in me concerning the comforts of life we enjoy and the privileges that are easily taken for granted.

While I do enjoy the small garden in my back yard, the immediate realization is that it is not necessity. I began a garden to learn a skill and to help me to connect to the Earth.  I decided right away not to use pesticides or even tillers.  It was me, my daughter, and my partner with rakes, hoes, shovels and a few other hand tools.  My body quickly learned how much work was involved doing things “the old fashioned way.”

Many people today live modern lives away from the toils living close to nature. Never-the -less, our lives are still dependent upon the seasonal harvests in one form or another.  How can we relate to the seasonal harvest beyond plants and soil?  What does the harvest mean to people today living in urban settings?

I like to begin with questions.  What work do you do?  What direction are you moving in?  What steps are you taking and What intention have you set?  Harvest are far more than planting seeds.  It is the promotion received after years of hard work, saving funds for investing in a future car, it is the student taking steps toward their dreams.  A harvest can be in the act of attempting to improve ourselves and our lives in many different facets.

 

WAYS OF RELATING TO THE SEASON

Although I enjoy summer and I feel some sadness in its ending,  I eagerly anticipate the arrival of the Autumn and its shades.  The first harvest sets my mind into a reeling motion.  I begin to think about the eminent changes of weather, what costume my daughter and I might wear for Halloween, and how I’ll save food from the garden for the Winter season. As a child, I can recall that August was the month my mother took down her large picnic basket from the top of the refrigerator.  I’d watch as she packed it with sandwiches, fruit and other goodies. It was still warm enough to visit the lake and sit down at a table for a picnic lunch.

Questions I asked myself when attempting to relate to the harvests were questions like:  What is working in my life?  What do I need to let go of?   What do I need to prepare for the season ahead? During a harvest such as this, when the moon is waning, I review and reconsider relationships, work, projects, choices, and more.  If you happen to enjoy a system of divination, reading runes, cards or implementing other tools for guidance is a good idea.  This year, my focus for the harvest is the symbol of the sickle.  I am ready to cut out what does not serve me, to cleanse myself of “old baggage.”  The effort to cleanse is centered in the purpose to clarify intentions and create a more clear vision of what I am working towards in my own life.

In the past, I’ve worked with the season’s energy by baking bread with friends and family and then having it at dinner with everyone.  My daughter enjoys playing with salt dough to make creative harvest designs.  Working with flour is a way to  honor my ancestors, who once relied upon bread as a primary food for survival.

The harvest season is a wonderful time of year to consider the path we are currently on. It is a time to take stock and to enjoy time with those we love.  After the intensity of the summer sun fades, I will pull down my own picnic basket from the fridge, pack it with satisfying delights and a small offering for the land spirits. My family and I will drive to the park with filled with trees and a small pond.  We will play until we are tired before sitting down to a refreshing drink and outdoor meal.  The smiles of my family, cool shade and beauty will be only a few of the things to be grateful for as the sun sets on the Harvest day.  Discover the way you relate to the harvest, embrace the season and have a happy  celebration!

 

Day to Day Living As A Pagan

After the barrage of beginners books, and years of living “magickally,” it eventually dawned on my that what I was truly seeking in my own life was integration. The spiritual aspect of my life was very important to me but I couldn’t neglect other aspects of my life in the process. At one point, my life seemed compartmentalized. There was a “box” for the various aspects of my life. This isn’t necessarily a “bad” thing if polarizing is necessary but it was frustrating sometimes. How can we (as pagan folk) integrate our lives as a seamless whole -without creating complete upheaval?
I settled upon routine first. What can I do in the morning that will help get me started? I know that I am not the only person with a crazy schedule. Often, I’ve been unrealistic about the kinds of goals I set, because of idealistic expectations I seem to think I must rise to. Hosh-posh!
I wake up in the morning and before I jump out of bed in a terrible rush, I reach over and grab my dream journal. This is something I’ve been doing since I was fourteen. It is an aspect of my daily routine that has become much like breathing. My eyes open and my arm swings out to the right immediately expecting to feel the spine of a book.
After my writing or during, I grab a delicious cup of coffee or sometimes a cup of piping hot cinnamon or chai tea and sit down in my gliding chair until every last drop has gone. Many years flew by before I realized this ritual was a kind of daily communion with my higher self. It gave me time to rest my mind and just breath. Really, it is a delightful, simple joy.
These two rituals are my most consistent, the rest is a mess. I may wash up, make breakfast and then get dressed or toss all of those around before rushing off to work and coming home to make dinner and slide in some time with the kid so I don’t feel guilty.
At one point, I was meditating every day for fifteen minutes, scribbling in my journals and cleaning like a mad woman but I didn’t make time for play, creating, or a nice outing; what a bad girl. Kidding of course.

I feel that most people struggle with daily balance and integration. It takes time and effort to develop daily rituals and consider how time is actually prioritized in our lives. So, what is the first step to integration and balance? Keep in mind these are the ways I’ve found it and it could be completely different for someone else out there.

1. Create a simple morning ritual around what you enjoy. I enjoy dream working, tea, and my hearth.

2.Get dressed and feel good even if you are not headed to work. Looking good and feeling good is important for me. When I get dressed it is like saying to myself “we are starting the day, this is going to be a good day, you deserve to look good…” This doesn’t mean I’m not in my red fuzzy robe sometimes for hours on end but it works -try it.

3.  Call a friend or talk to someone you love at least once a week.  Many of my friends do not live close by.  Life happens, and most of us trailed down paths that lead to different cities.  When this first happened, I complained that people never came to see me anymore.  At some point, I simply decided to visit those around me that cared for me.  I’d drop in for an unexpected check up and simply sit and visit for a time.

4.  Garden.  I am only learning to formally garden.  Through the years, my experience with plants has been either picking them from the front yard, identifying them and working with them magically and herbally from books or having another worker show me something new that they learned in one way or another.  Beyond green onions and lettuce being regrown in the kitchen, I’d never tilled up soil and planted seeds successfully until last year.  I have to say that despite the work, it is so very rewarding.  Even if it is a couple of plants in a pot, try growing a few things.   A friend of mine turned an old fish tank into a plant terrarium and it looked so nice I almost did it myself.

5.  A Formal Promise:  If I swear it to my gods and the spirits I work with there is guarantee I’m going to do it.  Dedicate yourself to integrating your practice into your daily routine (whatever that may be.)  It can be a challenge and a lot of work; a little help from the Otherworld isn’t a bad thing.

6.  Play with Pets.  When I moved back home to live with my partner.  He had two small dogs and I had two cats.  After introductions, the furries decided they would all get along.  Pets are a wonderful way to connect to the natural world while being able to express yourself spiritually.  I consider my cats quite sacred and I love them very much.  The dogs need a little more attention but I found myself suddenly feeling very connected to the dog as a kind of helper energy….

7.  Cooking:  Cooking was an everyday activity but when the schedule goes nuts it is time to prep in the kitchen.  Sundays is a busy day in my house.  Aside from that morning routine, everyone in the house gets up in the morning and decides what we would like to eat for the week. Then it is off to the grocery store and home to cook, seal and freeze.  Yes, I’ll admit that sometimes I dread the Sunday cooking but the rest of the week makes it all better again.  Plus, the evenings mean a little family game time, a long walk or other activity that we find fun.  Plus, any kitchen witch will tell you that cooking is a great way to charm the home and family in a most positive way.

These are some of the ways that I find it best to connect.  By no means will this work for everyone.  How do you integrate your practice?

Striking Out As A Solitary

Some of us are meant to walk the path alone.  Two years ago I set off in a journey in the Mark Twain National Forest.  I didn’t hike alone.   I traveled with a man who lived near it for over seventeen years and was familiar with the land and the unusual trees that were bent over to mark passages to villages long gone.  He showed me these places and I left offerings at the places where spirit pulled at me.  After a mile and a half of walking, I came to a place that was perfect for me to sit, to listen and just breathe for a while.  I noticed I held my breath often.  Stress was an easy culprit to blame and a nagging feeling tugged at my chest for over two weeks before I’d made the decision to journey and invite the woods to speak to me.

My companion showed me a bleached spot on a tree where coyotes  were marking their territory during their rounds.  I saw where bears had been and where a stag had rubbed his horns on a tree.  He showed me indigo, wild carrot, black cohosh and wild geranium.  We talked about plants and other wild things. He had a love for the land that was deeply knowledgeable but it was not wisdom he shared with very many people.  He confessed that he feared it wouldn’t be appreciated.  I wrote down much of what he showed me on that journey. When I look through it, I think of him, I appreciate what he shared with me and the revelation it brought.

The forest speaks, ask those who know how to listen.  Upon returning home, there was a need to scour my body for those terrible vermin called ticks.  Four were promptly removed and disposed of.  I bathed in a cool shower and wrapped myself in a loose sarong.  That night, I dreamt of the forest, it was dark and deep.  There were eyes staring at me; too many to count.  Light broke over the horizon and out of the woods walked a bobcat.  She was so very beautiful.  I was both mesmerized and afraid of the power that lay behind the strong paws and teeth.  I looked to see that my own sleek gray cat was safe.  I watched her legs stride confidently and she lifted her head to turn towards me.

The fear faded when I locked eyes with her.  Warmth spread through my bones as my mind suddenly went quiet.  I felt for a moment I was looking directly at myself.  A knowing unfolded in that moment; a knowing that spoke of my need to have time alone, to reconnect, and a reminded that I didn’t have to feel lonely during these moments.

My eyes opened.  Awareness of darkness around me made me wonder if I’d been asleep only a short while.  I felt my hands rise and fall with my breath a few times before I flexed my ankles and placed my feet on the floor.  Warm slippers were a welcome comfort.  I stood and walked to the door.  The night was gone.  The break of dawn greeted me.   I closed my eyes and in that moment decided that I would never feel lonely again.