Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Happy Mabon

The school at which I teach and reside celebrated the fall harvest this weekend with a giant party. The purpose of it was to raise funds for an awesome school program, but the true meaning of event was about Mabon, the second harvest.

Mabon is traditionally celebrated on the Fall Equinox, which occurred on September 22, just after 10:00 AM EDT. This is not the actual moment of equal night and day, but instead refers to the Earth's position on the celestial equator. We are now three quarters of the way through the solar year. This is considered the beginning of Autumn.

Lore about Mabon also discusses the time of equal day and equal night, which didn't occur until September 25. Little known fact: the times of the longest night, longest day, or equal day and night do not typically line up exactly with the solstices and equinoxes. This information isn't stored in any one place that I have found, but it can be dug up with the assistance of NASA.

SIDEBAR: I'm very interested in this, because the Old Religion, or what we know of it from archeology, is very much about archeoastronomy, or ancient astronomy. It's about measuring time, and marking the passage of the seasons through ritual and celebration, aka the Wheel of the Year. For me, doing these things adds such a richness to one's life, and a real connection to the land and the cyclical nature of our world.

But back to Mabon. We are now deep into the harvest season which began at Lughnasadh, the grain harvest. At Mabon, we harves fruits, berries, nuts, and seeds. Where I live, it's time to harvest and preserve staghorn sumac, apples, chestnuts, spicebush berries, partridge berries, hog peanuts, acorns, and paw paws.

All through the harvest season, we bring in the crops, both physical and metaphorical. We can, freeze, dry, pickle, jam, and candy all these wonderful fruits of the Earth to prepare for the lean times of winter. It's a time for the whole community to come together to complete this important work, and a time to celebrate all the abundance with which we are blessed.

Spiritually speaking, we consider what projects and intentions we nurtured through the year. It is time to
harvest them as well. What have we been growing with our magical work? What did we envision last Yule, dedicate ourselves to at Imbolc, bless the seeds for at Ostara, and sow at Beltane? How did these things grow? What have we gained and learned?

For me, this year has been rich. I am truly blessed and for this, I am so grateful. My physical health has improved. I have found a wonderful community. The work I am doing is fulfilling, and is furthering my personal and professional growth. The land on which I am blessed to live is so beautiful, and so abundant with life. Life is busy and good.

This weekend, our community came together to prepare a giant feast. The food was largely grown on our farm or collected wild from our land. If we didn't grow or gather it, we bought it from a local farmer or vintner. It was amazing, and quite a production. We decorated our great hall beautifully with flowers, fruit, and greenery. After the feast, we continued our merrymaking with song and dance, which was easy to do with all of the musical talent in our community.

Right now, I feel such a sense of contentment and ease. I know that I am in the right place, with the right people. I am on the path. My harvest is rich. I am thankful!

I hope that your Mabon, your harvest, is rich and abundant. I hope that it sustains you through the winter. May you be blessed with food, shelter, love, and community. May you know the contentment and gratitude that comes with the hard work of harvest. May the beauty of Autumn soothe and comfort your soul. A blessed Mabon to all.

Blessed be and naho!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

To Feel...

This post is part of The Pagan Experience, a group of writers of Earth-centered faiths. This is part of a series about the process of magic as framed by the five sacred elements - Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and Spirit. What does 'to feel' mean, on both a mundane and spiritual level?

To feel is to dive deep into the dark Waters of life, the swirling, hidden, uncertain, fruitful waters of dream and intuition, the waters of the Goddess's womb, the waters of our infinite hearts. Feeling is about surrender. We can choose to try to control our experiences at every moment, or we can surrender to the flow of existence, with all the folly and unexpected surprises that brings to us and simply feel.

When we give way to the all-pervading embrace of Water, we can truly explore the mystery of this Earthwalk. We are spiritual beings in fleshy bodies, having a wonderful adventure in time and space. These bodies are fascinating interlocking systems of stimulus and response, loaded with sensory perception. When we surrender to feeling, we inhabit our bodies deeply, and we experience our existence in a rich, full way.

The varied sensations we explore in Water are both sensations in our bodies and emotions in our hearts. As we explore our external world, we feel a variety of sensations - the warmth of the Sun on our skin, the joy of movement, the cool breeze, the pleasures of love, the delights of food and drink, the unforgettable smells that cue our memory so poignantly, the pains of injury, and on and on.

We feel these things so deeply, and we simultaneously experience a flood of emotion that is intertwined with the physical sensations. In many cases, an emotion itself involves a physical sensation. For example, after the day is done, you may be lying in bed, and you remember something stressful...and suddenly your chest is tight and a knot forms in your belly. On the positive side, you have looked at someone you love and felt a flood of warmth, softness, and joy that 'melts your heart'.

When we are immersed in feeling, we are connected to the Great Mystery, for it experiences the physicality and emotions of daily life through us. We are the mystery, a microcosm of the greater macrocosm that is the Mystery, a tiny part that nonetheless contains the whole. The Mystery looks out of
our eyes, sharing our wonder at the majesty of creation.

Living in flow, connected to all the feelings of body and heart center, we are also more deeply connected with others. To share the joy and pain of life with others is to have compassion for their suffering and bliss. It brings us to the understanding that we have so much in common - we all breathe the same air, walk under the same sun, howl at the same moon, and long for connection, belonging, and love.

"We live by the sun
We feel by the moon
We move by the stars

We live in all things
All things live in us

We call to each other
We listen to each other
Our hearts deepen with love and compassion

We live in all things
All things live in us"

-Stephanie Kaza (excerpt)

This kind of heart-centered, watery way of living in flow is a lunar way of being. The Moon is the progenitor of tides, both in the world's oceans, and in our hearts and beings. Women, especially, are cyclical beings who ebb and flow each month in tune with the cycle of the Moon. The Moon makes the waters rise and fall, and our hearts follow suit. When the Moon is full, we are full of energy and emotion, filled with inspiration and creativity. When the Moon is dark, we are reflective, immersed in dreams and visions. Knowing this mystery is a way of power - knowing when to work, when to create, when to rest, and when to dream in time with the Moon...these things the wise practitioner knows.

Surrendering to the flow of feeling is the next step in the process of magic. From a prior post"Knowing what you want is Air - getting inspired by a certain scenario and daring to believe it's possible. Working toward it, manifesting it, is Fire, where lives the Will. Choose it, choose it, choose it again." 

With Water, we allow our work to marinate, to "cook" or ferment, if you will. We reflect. We let the working rattle around in our subconscious, making all the mysterious connections with our personal set of experiences, symbols, and archetypes. Often information then bubbles up like a spring from our unconscious through dream, vision, or intuition. It may be a missing link in our thinking, or the idea that changes our life, allowing the fullness of our vision to manifest in the physical world. The ideas and wisdom that come to us in this way express the deepest truths within us. We know their rightness, we can feel it deep inside.Some people make the mistake of thinking that working magic is a linear, goal-oriented, action plan type of endeavor. This is the narrative that our dominant culture teaches us - decide what you want, figure out how to get it, work hard, achieve. Right? 

Not so - we get inspired, we do a working focused on what we want (not how to get it), then we enter the passive, reflective phase. We surrender to flow and *feel* the work we have done, and the changes it is already working within us. That is the lesson of Water - feeling, surrendering, flowing, reflecting, dreaming.

There is an ebb and a flow to magical working. In Air, we catch a dream as it blows by on the wind. In Fire, we glow with intensity as we work toward our intention. In Water, we flow...we reflect. It is a passive ebb in the cycle of magical working. 

Working with Water is a practice of non-doing. After all, Water must be calm to reflect our image clearly. 

Blessed be. Naho!