Saturday, July 24, 2010

I Never Made Promises Lightly

Can you feel it coming?

What Are You Harvesting?


(Lyrics by Arnon Clark / Music The Mingaulay Boat Song)

Chorus – Now is Lammas, Summer Harvest
Bind the sheaves tight and carry the grain home.
Feed the children, all the family
Food and plenty throughout the fall.

Call it Lammas, Lugh or Lughnasadh, but gather closely the first fruits of harvest.
We’ve no fear now, of want or famine, by the love of the God and Goddess.
As the long days all grow shorter, and the Horned One, He wanes and weakens,
We have plenty, and good eating, through His dying to live again.

As the sun sets, so the moon will rise. Praise the Lady and light the fire.
From Her body, and His sacrifice, comes our harvest and our lives.
Join your voices, spirits and your hearts. Bring your love now, and join together.
For the harvest it is gathered, and the time for the dance is come.

-Chorus (repeat)


Brutally hot, today, in the MidAtlantic, on one of the strongest, most magical Full Moons I've ever known.

I spent most of it inside, running out for just a few moments to harvest sage, harvest thyme, harvest basil, harvest lavender, water brugmansia, water lilacs, water even the rosemary.

I spent most of it at the farmers' market buying tomatoes and I spent most of it making gazpacho and tiny, cold potatoes, stuffed with sour cream, caviar, and chives, for tomorrow's gathering.

I spent most of it at my altar, rocking, chanting, overcome with this Moon's magic, lighting candles and incense and smudge sticks, running my roots deep into the warm Virginia clay, twisting around the oak roots and maple roots and crape myrtle roots and birch roots and gardenia roots and cryptomeria roots. I spent most of it grounding and wrapping my roots around the foundation of this cottage, around the deep roots of the wisteria-covered shed, around the etheric roots of the fire pit.

I spent most of it knitting a warm, winter sweater for G/Son with handspun, hand-died yarn, yarn the color of burning embers, warm yellows, shining sunsets. With every row, I knit in safety, glamour, good health, warmth.

I spent most of it writing legal prose, figuring out the best way to describe the issues in a case, explaining evidence, being spare. I love that work. I really do. It's mostly what I was born to do.

I spent most of it watching a half-dozen episodes of Dark Shadows. I began a few years ago with Episode 1 (Victoria on a train, Elizabeth at the window) and I'm now up to the I Ching and Quentin Collins. When I finish, I'm going to go back to the beginning.

I spent most of it blogging.

I spent most of it realizing how much I love my life.

I did.

How did you spend it?

Picture found here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What I Know About The Greenman

What I know about the Greenman is that, the farther away from Him the men of our society are, the more wounded they seem to be. And that getting close to Him is often one of the most healing things they can do.

The Beloved Must Die

Friday Night Lughnasadah Blogging

If you stop, ground, and listen for just a moment, you can hear it coming.

Surprise Harvest

Today, I am harvesting seeds. Sweet peas, climbing beans of different kinds, broad beans, kale, cilantro, spinach . . .

I love the circularity of this. I love taking part in this wonderful, external cycle of seed-to-plant, plant-to-seed, seed-to-plant. It continues to amaze me that a kale seed the size of a pinhead can grow into a plant whose leaves I can feast upon all winter and which, one day in spring, will bloom with yellow flowers the bees will love. And, furthermore, that from those flowers will grow dozens of slender pods that by the end of the summer will have dried and cracked open, spilling thousands more seeds to start the cycle anew.

~Marian Van Eyk McCain in Crone: Women Coming of Age, Issue No. 3, 2010.

Three years ago, when we put in the raised herb bed, I tried again to grow dill. It's one of my favorite herbs. I'd tried and failed miserably to get it to grow in the old herb bed, but that was in a too-shady spot and my hope was that the newer, sunnier bed would be better for it. Failure. Three or four weak, yellow, two-inch long seedlings showed up and died. Fine. I'm a big girl and I can take "no" for an answer. Dill just didn't want to grow here. The next spring, I gave the space to pineapple sage, which went mad. This year, I moved the pineapple sage to a pot, unable to figure out any way at all to use that much pineapple sage, and stuck basil in that spot.

And, then, a funny thing happened. Dill started sprouting in every section of the herb bed other than the one where I'd originally tried to grow it. Giant dill. Huge, healthy dill plants, full of that amazing scent and flavor. Lots of huge, healthy dill plants. Lots. Dill plants that I certainly didn't plant, at least not in those spots and at least not for the past two years. Dill that I've used all Summer long with a sense of wonder at the ways nature works.

Now one of the things I love about a herb garden is the sense of orderliness, the geometry of each herb in its place, the narrow mulched paths in between them. I'm pretty ruthless about pulling up Italian parsley when it begins to crowd over into the curly parsley's spot or about weeding the Greek oregano back into its own spot when it begins to get too familiar with the marigolds. But I couldn't make myself pull the dill, so it's grown all summer, two plants in the parsley, a plant in the sage, one or two in the rosemary patch -- you get the idea. And, now, just before Lughnasadah, the feast of the first harvest, it's gone to seed in great, glorious headfulls of hundreds of dill seeds.

"So, good, finally you're dead," I say to the dill, "and now I can pull you and restore some order." But, of course, I can't throw those seeds away, even though there are enough of them to populate several herb beds the size of mine. "Maybe I'll give some away to friends, " I think, justifying myself as I fill a large bag with the brown heads full of seeds. "And I can use some dill seeds for flavoring over the winter," I continue. "Maybe I'll use some in seed bombs for guerilla gardening. These are obviously strong seeds, seeds of survivors, even if they do apparently need to sit in the ground for a long time before they wake up and grow."

[W]e, the elders are the seed-savers of our culture. And seed-saving, in many forms, is now an imperative. For in these rapidly-changing times, there is much we are losing and much more in danger of being lost. That includes not only the native plants and animals which are disappearing for ever but the domesticated plants too. With the spread of industrialized agriculture, many traditional varieties of fruit, vegetables and grains have been irretrievably lost.


What will you harvest? What will you leave behind? Will any of it have come as a surprise to you?

Will you really, finally die
after I use all the Sweetmeat squash seeds
you gave us years ago? Your fat, happy seed children.
I still plant lettuce seeds, Buttercrunch, that came from your serious saving.
Will you fade when the envelope is empty
of life rattling around in seed form?

. . .

Food to share, food to dry, to can
before the shrivel and pucker of pods
where the next generation of seed babies
snuggles down in the cold nursery of winter
to await the next incarnation
while decay enjoys its own feast
and compost works its slow resurrection.

~Bethroot Gwynn, quoted in We'Moon 2010: Gaia Rhythms for Women: Reinvent the Wheel.

Photo by the author. If you copy, please link back.

Sturgeon Moon

My old body lets me know, these days, in no uncertain terms, when I didn't get enough sleep the night before. (Of course, Dear Body, if you didn't insist on waking up at the same time, regardless of when we got to sleep, and refusing, as you never did in my younger days, to go back to sleep, it would help. Just saying.) But there was no way, with last night's almost-full Moon simply pouring and gushing magical energy all over my garden, my cottage, my body, that I could get to sleep last night.

It was as if there were gentle electricity running through and charging everything. It was too much to ground and, besides, even the deep soil here was so full of Moon magic that it could only accept a tiny bit more. There was so much magic-of-this-place going on, that it was all I could do to watch in wonder and not get carried away into the Hill of Fairy, from which one returns, thinking one's been away a day or two, only to find that years have passed.

You can't, at least I can't, spend decades communing with that mysterious, glowing orb and not be affected when She's near the peak of her power. And my body may protest in the morning, but I wouldn't give up these nights of being bathed in energy, magic, and love for anything.

African Alchemy has more.

Picture found here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Evohe Hekate!

Hekate's Devotion

Blessed be the dark maiden
She who was born of the night
goddess trinity
reigning over the underworld, the celestial heavens and the deep earth
hail unto thee
guide of the Elysian fields
keeper of the keys of all the universe
guardian of the crossroads of fate
she who bears the blade that cuts the silver cords of life and death
Goddess of ancient wisdom, mistress of magick
By the serpent who carried the wisdom of the chthonic earth, I pray
by the night mare who runs wild with lunatic prophetic visions, I pray
Evohe Hekate, mother of witches
My goddess, my queen, my beautiful darkness
In thy honour, I burn this sacred flame.

~ Shay Morgan, in Bearing Torches: A Devotional Anthology for Hekate, edited by Sannion & the Editorial Board of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Picture found here.

What If?

Lots to think about.

I've been hearing these economy-based explanations of the Wizard of Oz for years. When I retire, I need to really study this, starting with reading the whole series.

Largest Ceremonial Center In Europe

My brilliant friend, E, send me a link to this fascinating article about a new find at Stonehenge.

Scientists scouring the area around Stonehenge said Thursday they have uncovered the foundations of a second circular structure only a few hundred meters (yards) from the world famous monument.

Like Stonehenge itself, the structure's precise purpose remains a mystery. But it's one of an expanding number of discoveries being made around the site -- something experts say is helping to show that Stonehenge was once much more than just a cluster of sandstone blocks standing in an empty field.

"In its day Stonehenge was at the center of the largest ceremonial center in Europe," said archaeologist Tim Darvill. . . .

With new finds such as this one, it's esp. sad to see the British government cutting back on funding to preserve Stonehenge.

Meanwhile, similar sites are still being discovered in North America.

Where's the largest ceremonial center in Europe today? In North America?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


From his crunchy lips to the Goddess' ears.

This morning on the way to work I heard again a 2005 interview Ken Myers did with Catherine Edwards Sanders about her (then new) book, "Wicca's Charms," which is about the spiritual hunger and cultural realities driving the growing popularity of neopaganism.
Introducing the interview, Myers observed that many people attracted to Wicca report that they've been drawn by its "authenticity," meaning it feels more real to them than traditional, established religions.

. . .

A revealed, dogmatic religion like Roman Catholicism will have a very difficult time in conditions of modernity, precisely because we are all conditioned to think in terms of the Self as the final arbiter of truth. To exist in proper relationship with the Truth, I believe, requires passionate inward appropriation of external, objective realities. The key point is faith that there is a such thing as religious truth independent of my own subjective judgment. If people don't believe that, I don't see how a religion like Christianity is sustainable over the long term, at least not in any meaningful sense.

Imagine what he's saying here. Even if a religion feels wrong for you -- in fact, IS wrong for you -- you should accept it because, well, because some authority says that it's so.

As a former Catholic (and I mean the whole ten yards: Catholic school, daily rosaries, nuns recruitng me for the convent, teaching CCD, Catholic pentacostalism, retreats, etc.) all that I can say is: Fuck that shit.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Such A Geek

I'll probably go.

More here.

Picture found here.

Hail, Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga is one of the four Goddesses that I call whenever I sit at my altar. I'm still learning to "grok" her. But any old, muscled woman who can pick up house and move like that is a role model for me. I think she is old, strong, and unafraid to move. With my Moon in Taurus, learning to pick up and move when it's time to move is a good lesson for me.

What Goddess are you trying to know better?

Kitchen Witchery

Cooking w/ marigolds. I may try the cucumber dressing for this month's Full Moon.

Marigolds are often considered sacred to the Beloved Dead.

Picture found here.

Pagan Theology: These Terms Are Not Mutually Exclusive

Gus di Zerega has an amazing post up on Witchvox. It's long, but it's truly worth your time to read the whole thing, bookmark it, print it out, put it in your journal.

Here's a tiny taste:

Because they worship different Gods under the same name, in over 2000 years sincere Christians (let alone monotheists in general) have never been able to agree on central matters of doctrine. Christians worship a God who loathes us, and a God who loves us, a God who surrounds us with intricate rules that we violate at the cost of our souls and a God who only requires us to take Jesus as savior, a God who holds us guilty of Original Sin, and a God who holds us guilty only of sins we personally commit. A God who predestined us to salvation or damnation long before we existed and a God who gives us freedom. A God who will save us all because He loves us, a God who will save most and also a God who will save few because his anger towards those who reject Him is eternal. The variety of sincere interpretations arising from a single text is remarkable, and to the degree unity in understanding has ever existed, it has come from political force. Monotheistic unity has always proceeded from the edge of a sword and the barrel of a gun, not from the persuasive power of argument and faith. When freedom of belief is established, the swords sheathed, the guns stilled, diversity emerges. Always.

One often hears the concern, and it's valid, that we Pagans are long on experience of The Divine, but short on theology. Gus' essay is, IMHO, a giant leap forward.

Thank you, Gus.

Picture found here

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My New Name For A Blog

What Digby Said.

Conversations With G/Son

One of G/Son's first activities when he gets to Nonna's house is to check out the fairy door on the old maple tree in the back yard. He tries to open it, but it never opens. This weekend, he asked:

G/Son: Nonna, why the door doesn't open?

Nonna: It's a fairy door. Only fairies can go through; not people.

G/Son: Nonna, fairies aren't real in reality.

Nonna: Hmm. I'm not so sure. I think it depends upon what people mean by "fairy" and by "reality." Most folks agree there are no fairies, but I dissent.

G/Son: Are you a fairy?

Nonna: No, I'm human, like you. That's why I can't open the fairy door, either.

G/Son (asking): You're a Witch.

Nonna: Yes, I'm a Witch.

G/Son (a little concerned): Nonna, why?

Nonna: Well, because I honor the Earth.

G/Son: I honor the Earth, too, but I'm not a Witch.


And then we went inside for pizza and some "Go, Diego, Go!" videos. (Which bother me as a bit sexist, but, still.)


Witch. Words have power.

For my generation of Witches -- pre-internet,, pre-easy-to-find-Pagan-events, pre-even-the-current-acceptance-of-Wicca -- the word mattered, mattered madly, and, to me, it still does and always will. Reclaiming (hmm, good name for a coven!) the word for feminists was important work and it still is.

Someday, when he's a little older, I can explain away the unspoken question in G/Son's uncertain statement: Nonna, how can you be a Witch (which most of the world tells me is a mean woman who hurts people) when I know you to be the kind old woman who lets me have Cheerios for breakfast, takes me to see deer in the forest, and buys me Silly Bandz? (Seriously, who knew how many Grandparent Points you can rack up just buying Silly Bandz for a 4-year-old? G/Son explained to me, "They're way cool. Only the older kids at my school have Silly Bandz. Grady (obviously v. cool kid in the older class) will not BELIEVE how many Silly Bandz I got!" (Nonna's inside, inside, inside her head voice: "Grady/Schmady! We can buy half a dozen bags of these things!" I may be a little competitive. It may be something I should work on.) I can explain to him about the deliberate disinformation campaign and the lies told about thousands and thousands of old women just like his Nonna, who takes her G/Son to the park, but fights like hell for her causes on conference calls, causing some to really dislike her.

I'm going to die a Witch, no matter what happens. Like Heloise in Stealing Heaven -- living for years as a nun but, on her deathbed, breaking open the crucifix into which she'd hid her mementos of Abelard (so that she'd been praying, all that time, secretly to them and not the xian god) -- it doesn't matter how "into the closet" I have to go; I'm going to live and die as a Witch. When I claimed the word "Witch" (or, more properly, when it claimed me), it was as if you could hear the gears locking, the edges clicking, the bearings falling into place, the connection becoming complete.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about how quite a few of the Ways of the Witch have been working themselves into 21st Century culture w/o a specific admission or declaration that there's Witchcraft (and I've long liked Cora Anderson's explanation that Witches are people who "believe in trees and being sensible") involved. I read about what's planned for this year's Burning Man Festival (and, well, heck, there's the actual name of the thing, but it's an "art" festival), I watch the Edingurgh Fire Festival which, every year, grows more and more Pagan without explicitly (AFAIKT) requiring those who participate to BE Pagan. (I'm still trying to figure out whether I agree with Chas Clifton who says that ritual preceeds myth, not the other way around.)
I listen to Son and DiL tell me that, while G/Son and I were pretending to be Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader (I always have to be Darth (I make a good one), and the game is a good deal like Calvin Ball: the rules always change to favor Luke), they wandered into a weekly drumming circle in the Silver Spring Civic Center. It's apparently not a "Pagan" event, but, as Son said, "Want to go with us next week? What could be better for the Full Moon than a drum circle?"

I'm cool with the notion of "Honoring the Earth" -- as both I, as a Witch, and G/Son, who says he is not a Witch, do -- becoming a leitmotif for this Century, as the atom bomb and destruction of the Earth was the leitmotif for the Twentieth Century, near the end of which, some of us began to reclaim the word "Witch." It doesn't matter too much whether or not what's going on is recognized as Witchcraft. In all honesty, we Witches often prefer to and do operate best in the shadows, near the edge of the woods, in secret. What matters is for Mamma Gaia to receive the honor which has so long been denied to her.

There will always be those who worship the Goddess. Like The Pretenders, I believe that "She will always carry on. Something is lost but something is found. They will keep on speaking Her name. Somethings change; some stay the same." And, Like Judy Collins, I think that something's lost, but something's gained in (the Goddess') living everyday. I've been honored to watch, to have put my shoulder to the turning wheel and have seen "what's gained" during a time of renaissance in Goddess worship.

But if G/Son and his generational "cohorts" grow up simply accepting that, duh, everyone honors the Earth no matter what they call themselves, well, I'll die a happy Witch.


This morning, as we are packing up to go back to G/Son's house, he asks me,

G/Son: Nonna, what are you going to be for Halloween?

Nonna: Every Halloween, I wear my witch's hat and my black witch's dress.

G/Son: But not a bad witch?

Nonna: Right. A good witch who honors the Earth.

G/Son: Nonna, good people can't dress up like bad people for Halloween. You have to go to the store and get a costume like Batgirl or a Princess.

Nonna: I like to dress up like a good witch who honors the Earth so that people have to think about those things.

G/Son: I'm going to be Batman. Batman honors the Earth because he likes bats.


Then we talk about how months are 30 days long and how it will be almost 100 days until Halloween and how that's a lot, but how Nonna has zero ("that means none") Silly Bandz, so Halloween is a long way off, after even all the green leaves fall from the trees and it turns chilly enough for G/Son to start wearing some of the sweaters Nonna knitted for him and for all of us to start drinking warm soups.

I'm just going to keep on doing what I'm doing until they make me stop. I haven't figured out anything else to do.

Sunday Dance Blogging