Today is Lughnasadh, and I find myself returning to the strange mixture of work and rest, grief and celebration that always marks this time of year for me. It is the acknowledgement of fear and loss during the most fruitful time of the year that marks this as a holy season. It is this mingling of love and sorrow, hope and grief that transforms the cycles of production and consumption into something more: a sacred harvest. When we forget the hard work of our ancestors, when we distance ourselves from the sweat, blood and tears that connect us to the living reality of those who have come before us, when we anesthetize ourselves to the grief we feel at the struggles they faced and the sacrifices they made — that is when we risk becoming mere consumers. Grief serves a sacred purpose, for we cannot grieve what we have not loved. Grief is one of the fruits of love, even as joy and prosperity are the fruits of labor.
Sunny Solstice blessings to you all! Exactly ten years ago today, I celebrated my first Pagan ritual. The sun was high, the wind was lazy, the earth was warm beneath our feet, and the bugs were out in swarms after a wet spring! We shared bread, poured libations of water and made offerings of lavender and foxglove. This year, I gathered lavender and foxglove from the garden in front of my apartment building, on the other side of the continent from that first solstice celebration. Traditions continue, memory endures. I'm looking forward to the next ten years!
A few days ago, our landlord and his son asked us to clear our tiny front porch area while they worked on stripping and repainting the ceiling. Usually we have a small table set out front with a few candles and the odds-and-ends the kids bring back with them from the woods. We don't always do a great job of maintaining this outdoor altar, especially during the cold months of snow and ice... But today, I needed some spiritual down-time to ground in the textures and scents of the earth and replenish my soul a bit. Our landlord's home improvement project seemed a perfect excuse to revisit our outdoor altar with fresh eyes.