Season and Spirit: Magickal Adventures Around the Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year is the engine that drives NeoPagan practice. Explore thw magick of the season beyond the Eight Great Sabbats.

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Hospitality

Friday afternoon it began to snow, and over 24 hours, dumped 10 inches or more right on top of gardens that were blooming and trees that were leafing out. While my friends on social media were posting pictures of flowers, of nymphs and fauns cavorting in green woods, of fey beings at play in moonlit fields, I was stirring up soup while inches of fat, sticky white clumps fell outside the window. This is perfectly normal for around here, that right around the beginning of May we get hit with heavy snowfall. It was not normal that this snowfall came after an abnormally dry, warm late Winter. March and April saw barely any rain or snow, so the snowfall is welcome, even if it does mean this weekend's vibe is not particularly Walpurgisnacht-y.

I'm also happy about this snowfall, because in a few short weeks, I will attending a four-day Pagan gathering in the beautiful Black Forest of Colorado, and snow would really spoil the fun.

As a first-time staff member, I've been deeply impressed by the work and care that goes into this festival, the amount of work devoted to making the experience of each attendee as rich, as joyful, and as safe as possible. It is hospitality in action, because we are being being hosted by a church retreat center, and are indebted to their hospitality, in order to host our own beloved community. It is touching to see the bonds and connections, arising even in difference, that come about through the time-honored practice of hospitality.

Hospitality has been a shared value since ancient times, having been articulated explicitly as part of an ethical code of conduct throughout the ancient Middle East and Mediterranean cultures. The Greeks called it 'xenia'--guest friendship—and honored Zeus Xenios, Zeus who protected the stranger, the traveler, the guest. These traditions were the foundations of the courtly traditions that lent some restraint during the violent Dark and Middle Ages, and persist to this day. Hospitality is one of the Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru. And in the American South, it rivals even football for cultural significance.

The promise made to the traveler, to the stranger, the displaced, is to be given shelter from the storm, a rest from their travels and an opportunity to be at peace, to be warm and well-fed, and not at the mercy of vagaries of the weather or the predations of other humans. Hospitality is a part and parcel of the social contract where the divine right of the guest and the divine duty of the host, weave together stronger communities.

The strength of our communities—national, local, affinity—is revealed in moments like this, moments when we prepare to open doors, calculating what will be needed and what we can give. As I get ready for the gathering, this becomes a potent reminder that someone, somewhere, made space for me, welcomed me into the fold, brought me into the community of practice that I love so much, that I now have the honor of serving. I also know that, not that long ago, some people, some Americans, assisted an immigrant family seeking asylum. That these folks, many of them from a community of faith, went to a great deal of trouble to help a family of strangers, people who were displaced and who had very little. That was my family, a few years before I was born. It has never occurred to me that the United States could do anything else than to welcome the displaced, the refugee, anyone trying to flee warfare, narcoterrorism, or crushing poverty. For me, the strength of this community was always revealed in, not high our walls are, but how how broad, how deep, our hearth is.

 

As I prepare to do my service to community, I am very grateful to be giving back, in small part, all the hospitality that has been shown to me and those I love.  

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Leni Hester is a Witch and writer from Denver, Colorado. Her work appears in the Immanion anthologies "Pop Culture Grimoire," "Women's Voices in Magick" and "Manifesting Prosperity". She is a frequent contributor to Witches and Pagans and Sagewoman Magazines.

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