There's another article in the current issue of Sage Woman that goes to my points about the importance of grounding your practice in your own landbase and watershed. Tchipakkan writes movingly of the differences between her practice in New England and the traditional Wheel of the Year Sabbats.
The things [that] we celebrate here in New England are usualy the same as other people: harvest, the land going to sleep for the winter being with our friends in snug homes, the say the gods show themselves in the turn of the seasons But we do not celebrate at the same time as those in warmer climes our local strawberries come in regularly around the Summer Solstice, so to us strawberries are intimately linked with Litha (what many Pagans call Mid-Summer). But I think of June s the beginning of summer; not its middle. Nor is Yule "Mid-winter" to us; at the Winter Solstice the snow has barely begun to accumulate if it has even started falling yet.
It seems to me that almost all Pagan holidays must be essentially local. . . . If our Pagan practice is truly earth-centered, then we ought to celebrate the land spirits on our land, the bounty they nurture for us[,] not someone else. In the fall, we bring in apples from the orchards and celebrate the bounty of nature with a huge apple pie. If the cat do their job and keep away the mice, those apples will last until spring in our cellar, feeding us all winter long.
All great advice and good insights.
And yet, as I noted in my first post on this topic, today, many Pagans live in urban environments. The author begins her essay by explaining that: My husband and I decided to live out in the coutry where we could have a garden -- goats, chickens, rabbits, bees, the whole "back to the land",Mother Earth News, crunchy granola thing. I love it.
Our eldest thrives on the energy of cities, and moved away right after finishing high school, but the rest of us resonate to the rhythms of this land.
And that's lovely, except that even those who thrive on the energy of cities or who find themselves required to live there due to jobs or other arrangements also need to be able to resonate to the rhythms of the land. Yet one gets the impression reading Pagan journals and books that almost all Pagans live out on the land, practice permaculture, and raise bees. They don't. And our American Pagan practice won't mature until we admit this and quit writing off those who live in cities. Sure, cities could be better designed to give their residents better opportunities to be in touch with their landbase, Goddess knows, but that's no help to the urban Pagan attempting to have a Pagan practice more in touch with 21st century America than Iron Age Britain.
In fact, the author, herself, offers a few suggestions that can work for city dwellers:
The first step is to step outside and inhale -- smell the air. That will tell you a whole lot about what the [E]arth is doing where you are. Is it growing? Is it thawing? Is there rain or snow on the air? What's the appropriate clothing to wear if you go out? What wild plants grow near you? Even in the city there are plants that want to be our friends -- dandelions, burdock, clover, plantain, mullein, even nettle (which is a nourishing plant if you know how to gather and prepare it!)
For rituals and pot lucks, use locally-grown produce as the center of your celebrations. . . . Take the time and effort to communicate with the spirits in your house and yard; they're there, you just need to start listening to them! You may also be able . . . to learn to speak to the Spirit of your town. I've found that when one pays attention, and particularly [when one] makes offerings -- whether a pinch of grain or a song -- the spirits of place begin to bless us with their presence[,] as well. (Town and road spirits respond especially well to picking up roadside/parkland trash.) Fell and follow the energies in your area and you may find a spring or grove where you'll want to speak to the local deities of place and season. It doesn't take elaborate rituals or expensive supplies to communicate with the divine; all it takes is the sensitivity to listen, learn, and love where you are.
I'll add that many cities nowadays have a weekly or biweekly farmer's market where farmers from within the same watershed as the city can come and sell their produce. When I lived in an urban apartment surrounded by parking lots, streets, and shopping malls, going to the farmer's market once a week was a way for me to stay in touch with the seasons. Strawberries for only a few weeks in June, corn in late July and early August, apples in September.
Goddess of the cross-roads, Goddess of Manic-Depression, Dweller in the deep places of the earth and mind, Traveller in the land between worlds! Torch-bearer! Protectress of the very old and the very young; Protectress of those used and abused; Healer of those who are torn apart; She will be there for us when we call on her and at the end. Grandmother to lost children and to the downtrodden. Nurse to the suckling infant, Comfort to the lone man or woman in the darkest night. She who seeks vengeance for her children who are wronged! Wanderer and prowler! Sorceress who lives at the edge of the mind. Drawer-up of the secret compost from the unused internal well. She who has no relatives on the earth save for her children. Without Mother or Sister. Lady on the brink, both bi-polar and uni-polar! They call her mad, and it is she who terrifies the disbeliever and the unworthy! Bringer of nightmares! But she it is who sooths the sleepless and disheveled spirit. Mother of night! Dark Power of the moon! Keeper of the shadow! Walker of the endless highways! She unites those who follow her as her children; the Hekite. Bearer of the sacred poppy. Shape-shifter, Transformer. Keeper of the hounds of Hel and the three-headed dog Cerebus! She walks abroad in the hour of the wolf and under the Dark Moon! Hear my call O Lady and cover us with your starry cloak. Let the unborn moon seed in my heart this night. And let her growing light shine upon our intention; That she be at our full deliverance, So Mote it be!
My awareness of the Wheel, coupled with knowledge of the landscape in which I live, forms the foundation of my magickal practice. An intimate relationship with Land, Climate, and Weather is rewarding, but requires real work and presence. I began practicing Wicca when I lived in North Carolina, a temperate, densely wooded, damp environment. Later, I moved to Denver and found that this move created corresponding changes in my practice. . . . In order to stay connected to the Wheel, I had to shift and adapt my previous observances of the Eight Sabbats to match the conditions of a vastly different ecosystem and climate.
Whenever I find myself getting ungrounded flighty or disconnected, I merely go back to basics, think about where I am on the Wheel, and ground into that. It never fails to bring me back to connection with the world around me.
I think there's a tendency, when adapting "traditions" concerning the 8 Sabbats to our own environment and landbase to worry that we "r doin it wrong" as the LOL cat would say. That's a mistake. What's "right" is what works in terms of your relationship with your bit of Earth, not what used to work in Iron Age Ireland or wherever.
Would the white male Republicans who have been faithful to their wives please stand up? Thank you. Now, slap your own faces, grab your pee pees, and sit the fuck down and quit telling the rest of us how to have sex and how to deal with the results.
Hobos wail a garbage can against the cyclone links. The monkey puzzle tree droops its scaly tails above our heads as she sets up near the zoo’s bonobos, humping happy in their cages close to chimps ripping off each other’s ears. And in the cloud reposing on the sky, cut by an F22’s long hookah puffs, the cyan atmospherics rupture into solarized platelets: her Ray-Bans foil my own face back at me: A time of renewals though somewhere dark cold woe You won’t know what’s what Comes a taste of sea to make her pause, and marine gusts slice and spook her cards, my cards, that ﬂurry to the sidewalk, near the barred gate, breaking fortune down faster as she speaks. Source: Poetry (June 2009).
Here's a lovely article on the growth of Paganism in the UK. It completely manages to avoid the usual "they don't even really worship devils!" schtick, while employing a bit of humor. Interesting discussion of the role of pop culture in the growth of Paganism. I always wonder which is chicken and which is egg. The interesting popularity of Morris Dancing among young Brits seems a long way from watching Harry Potter movies.
Paganism is casting its spell over more people now than ever before in the modern age. There are said to be a quarter of a million practising pagans in this country, double the number of a decade ago.
That would make them more numerous than Buddhists (of which there are 144,500, according to the 2001 census) and almost as numerous as Jews (259,000) - and it doesn't even allow for the growing tribe of unofficial, instinctive pagans such as my friend Cath, who planned to celebrate the summer solstice in the early hours yesterday by "going out into the garden at dawn and just tuning in". At Stonehenge at least 30,000 people were expected to watch the sun rise in the company of the druids who see themselves as practising the ancient faith of pre-Christian Britain.
Now, as the light begins to decline and we head towards Mabon and then Yule, is a good time to recommit to a daily practice, even a short and simple one. Sit (in nature, if at all possible) and ground. (See an earlier post on grounding here.) Light a candle or some incense or simply breathe in the smells of dirt, plants, water. You are part of Mother Earth. You are part of your landbase. You are part of your watershed. What are they telling you?
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."