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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Love is Sacrifice; Lughnasa 2021

Tonight, at my house, we’re preparing to celebrate Lughnasa tomorrow, the feast of the First Harvest.  The house is clean, the altar is already set.  Tomorrow morning, a quick trip to the farmers market will provide veggies for the feast, then we’ll bake up a small loaf of bread and gather sunflowers, wild wheat, and blue cornflowers for an offering.  Just like every other year.


Except that, much like last year, the ‘circle’ is virtual: my daughters and I in person, and the rest of my far flung coven and friends over facetime.


Despite promising results with vaccination, here in Colorado, CoVid rates are going up, just in time for school to start again.  We also have a sizable anti-mask sentiment in parts of the state.  So over the past week, several events I was invited to, were suddenly canceled, postponed or modified for safety.


It's a bit demoralizing, after the sacrifices of so many essential workers on the front lines of pandemic response, to see us going backwards. To realize that, mandate or not, it is safer right now to socially distance, remain masked and avoid crowds.  To have to refrain from seeing the people we love, from touching and other forms of intimacy, for even longer than we feared. It’s frustrating.


It’s been a frustrating sort of year.


Certainly the frustration was evident among sports fans this week when US gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from Olympic competition, citing mental and physical health concerns.  Disappointing for her, her team, and Olympic fans.  But the condemnation of Biles by certain media pundits--ridiculing her, calling her names, attacking her patriotism--is absolutely unwarranted.


She sacrificed competing, in order to prioritize her health.  She did it to ensure against further injury, and in doing so allowed her teammates more time to shine. She sacrificed for what she loves, in order to keep doing it.


My coven too is sacrificing. We would love to sit together, eat and share fellowship after circle.  We are all lonely and bearing up under the strain of how the pandemic has changed our lives.  But we would rather forego that this time, to ensure more peace of mind and safety for ourselves and our more vulnerable family members.


At Lughnasa, we celebrate the first harvest by offering up the first and best of what we grew, to the Gods in thanks for what we are receiving.  Sometimes it’s bread or a little mannikin thrown in the fire, or a wreath of  wildflowers flung into a river, or a gift of garden produce or cash donated to a food bank. This year the sacrifices are more personal, more pointed, because we are having to sacrifice things we truly want and desire, not just symbols, not just the scraps we glean out of dizzying abundance. 


In this way the harvest we petition for, cannot just be for us alone.  What we give up, what we made sacred, can only bring in enough for ourselves, if we are willing to make those sacrifices for others.  

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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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