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The Wheel of the Year is the engine that drives NeoPagan practice. Explore thw magick of the season beyond the Eight Great Sabbats.
It's the end of Summer and there are few things on my mind. Yes the rush of back to school preparations usually takes my family by storm, but I am pretty dull lately due to my unwavering focus and inability to talk about anything else. I am obsessed with harvest season.
Ask how I'm doing, I'll tell you my zucchini is doing great, but my pumpkins are coming in very slow and I'm afraid they won't beat the frost....
On Wednesday, in the deepest dark of the Moon, I made a little nest of blankets on our balcony and sat back to try and watch the Perseid meteor shower. This is always one of our favorite Summertime traditions, as my kids and I shut off all the lights we can, and lay back to watch the darkening sky. This year, thin cloud cover veiled much of the show, but I saw spectacularly bright flashes across the sky. The rest of the time, I sensed, vaguely, that there was movement up there, but I just couldn’t quite see it. The clouds were bad luck, especially since the shower's peak was coming on a moonless night, the dark sky making the show more visible. The darker the setting of the night sky, the more brilliant the flash of shooting stars.
This New Moon in Leo lines up 5 planets in Leo, the sign of high Summer, the Fixed Fire of the zodiac, ruled by the Sun. Leo illuminates our sense of power and passion, shows us our desires, fuels our creativity and our play. The Sun and Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars are all radiating Leo's boundless solar joy and strength just as the Sun itself is pouring down intense light and heat. The presence of the cosmic lovers, Venus and Mars, in the same sign brings luck and love, but this year, Venus is retrograde....
Around the Fourth of July, I began to write this essay. I was inspired by the ways in which the Fourth is celebrated: by families and neighborhoods, with fireworks and games and picnics and all-day, Summery leisure. I watched movies about the American Revolution, and I thought at length about the Fourth, as a civic celebration, as an iconic moment of childhood, as an inspiration for the immigrants who come here, for artists and writers aspiring to greater depth of talent and expression. For anyone longing for liberation, this celebration of independence and freedom seems full of promise, full of encouragement to go boldly in the direction of one's heart's desire. This is an American narrative of liberty and opportunity, the one we teach school children, the one that inspires numerous people to immigrate despite hardship and challenge (not to mention a less than warm welcome once they arrive). It is based on a shared history that is inspiring and ennobling, as well as horrifically violent and racist.
The Fourth's observance, with its emotion and spectacle, is truly an American Sabbat, a day of remembrance and revelry. Its arrival soon after the beginning of Summer marks its as a time of play and pleasure. It's also a time to recall our civic Ancestors: not merely the Founding Fathers or members of the military, but everyone who died in pursuit of freedom and liberty, not all of whom were warriors. I always feel that part of this Sabbat is marking the sacrifices others have made in building this country, and how far we are from coming into our country's fullest promise of liberty and security....
At the Summer Solstice it is said that the Oak King and Holly King do battle, and the God of the Waxing Year must give way to the King of the Waning Year. This is a Hinge, a moment of transition that drives the Wheel of the Year. At the Solstice, the Sun is at its peak, the fruitful earth is coming into its most delicious bounty. After this, we cross a tipping point, as the days grow shorter, and we move forward towards the harvest festivals.
For me it feels more intuitive that this transition comes as the solar transit of Cancer turns into Leo. The lunar month attending Cancer is the Oak Moon, hearkening to the Oak King of the growing, fertile, waxing season of the Year. The Oak King evokes the solar qualities of the divine masculine: strength, forthrightness, generosity; he holds the energy of divine kingship and warrior-ship. A sacred animal often associated with this lunation is the Horse, embodying the power and dignity of the Solar God. An animal fit best for open, sunlit plains, the horse has been associated with solar gods since the Greeks wrote of Phoebus driving a chariot of fiery stallions across the sky each day....
This month's New Moon, occurring over July 15-16, finds the Sun, Moon, Mercury, and Mars all in the sign of Cancer. These aspects, along with some tense squares, makes this New Moon very spiritually active.
Cancer is a sign of paradox. As a Cardinal sign, it arrives with the Summer Solstice, when the Sun is at its most powerful, but is a water sign ruled by the Moon. This charged polarity informs the magick of the Solstice: the celebration and revelry of the moment, the commitment of Goddess and God to each other and to the nurturance of the living world, and the hint of solemnity as we approach the tipping point of the waxing Year. Cancer's power is that of water: to sustain and nurture, to heal, to feed, to surrender to grief or dissolve in bliss, to weep tears of sorrow and joy, to explore our own emotional depths and to know ourselves, or to drown in our woundedness, and to find in the Moon's reflection, the magick in our soul....
Tonight is May Eve, also known as Walpurgisnacht, the night before the Wiccan sabbat called Beltane. Beltane comes in midst of Spring, when nature;s generative powers are evident. In contemporary Paganism, Beltane has become, among other things, a celebration of pleasure, sexuality and sensuality. The joy of being physical, of having bodies and experiencing the wide range of emotions and desires, our capacity for play and creativity, and our ability to heal when we come together in community—all of these are the sacred gifts of Beltane.
In this time of celebration and joy, when love and passion are on our minds, can we look beyond the routine of every day and ask ourselves: Do we live with passion? When do we feel that? What deeply held value, what soul's longing, can we commit to today?...
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