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Lammas: Harvesting Your Soul Lessons

Lammas marks the end of the current cycle of your journey of soul. The wheel of the year has turned from darkness and death, through light and life, and now shines out the last of this season’s light before a new cycle begins. So too you’ve come to the end of one turning of your journey; it’s time to harvest its bounty of life lessons and personal growth, and to seek out the seeds of your next cycle.

At Lammas, the summer sunshine has baked the land a golden yellow. Fruits, berries and grains bend branches and stalks with their plump ripeness, ready to offer up their bounty to the harvest. Yet the outer look of things can be deceiving. Day by day, the light wanes and the dark waxes; cold will soon replace heat, and the powers of death overtake those of life. The balance has shifted, and the abundance that is now so evident will soon be gone. 

Lammas is the pagan celebration of the early harvest, with grains, such as wheat and corn, playing a central role in the symbolism of this time of year. The golden fields of grain are ready for harvesting. What has been tended and brought to full fruition must now be cut down to feed hungry bellies. Some living things are sacrificed to nourish other living things, and to ensure the continuity and wellness of the whole. With death comes the miracle of rebirth, held within the seeds and their promise of a new harvest.

This theme of self-chosen sacrificial death in support of life and rebirth infuses the mythic roots of Lammas. The Corn King, John Barleycorn and the Harvest King are some of the names given to the sacrificial God who gathers His energy into the crops that are cut down at Lammas to feed the living and to ensure a new harvest in Spring. In Celtic mythology, the Goddess Tailtiu cleared the land for cultivation as a gift to the people, and died from Her tremendous efforts. Lammas is also called Lughnasadh, in reference to the Celtic God Lugh. Tailtiu is Lugh’s foster mother, and legend has it that Lugh instituted a Lughnasadh harvest festival and games in Her honor.

Your journey of soul calls you to this same theme of self-chosen sacrifice in service of your personal healing and transformation. You must be willing to harvest your soul lessons and cut away those things that are now complete or that block your future growth. Some things must die in your life for something new to be reborn. 

It is Lugh — the Shining One, the many-skilled God, bearing His Sword of Light — that illuminates your Lammas harvest pathwork.  Lugh meets you on a hilltop, offering you a wide-ranging viewscape that can help you see deep into the heart of your life story, and deep into the heart of the struggles of the Mother Earth, as one cycle of your journey of soul and one turning of our collective humanity end, and a new cycle and turning begin. In these profound mysteries of life, death and rebirth, Lugh is your luminescent, loving guide as you embrace the incisive, demanding, and often painful tasks that Lammas asks of you. 

At its core, Lammas is a season of hope and the miracle of new beginnings. In the golden field that is your life story, you can find everything you need to heal your soul, transform your life and mend our world. Within you are the lessons, endings and seeds of a powerful new beginning that can lead you ever closer home to your Deep Self and authentic humanity.

Artwork by Qistina Khalidah

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A Beltane Teaching: The Lover’s Embrace of Life

Right now, in the heat of Beltane, the wild realm is expressing itself so loudly and so boldly that we just need to step beyond our doorstep to receive its direct, powerful truth-speak: life is our ardent lover.  

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A Message from Demeter at the Spring Equinox

As the seasons of the Earth turn, so do the seasons of humanity. Many powers are converging, within and without, to wake humanity from its long winter of soul. Spring is in the air; Persephone walks the land above; and here you are, by my side, reaching for the ways of the Great Mother once more.

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A Samhain Tale: Hecate and the Crossroads of Choice

At Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is thin and the mysteries of the sacred dark permeate the mundane world, Hecate calls to us. Never before has Her voice been so loud, so urgent. She speaks to us not only in our dreams and ritual magic, but also in the stark language of wildly erratic weather patterns, dying oceans and barren lands, and in the cold despair and hungry hopes of our own warm, beating heart.

It`s not easy to heed Her call. She raises our own spectral fears about the fate of our human society and planet home. Environmentally, socially, politically and spiritually, we are destroying the fabric of our physical and social world. We have reached a critical tipping point, and if we continue on this trajectory, things are not going to end well.

But how do we change? How do we shift from denial, apathy and despair into a place of hope and inspiration? How do we turn this destructive momentum into an evolutionary, birthing moment? And what is our personal part in weaving a better world into being?

“Come to my crossroads,” Hecate whispers on the wind, “Come and you will find the answers you seek.”

Take a deep breath, summon up your courage and say, “Yes, Hecate, I am coming. Guide me to your crossroads.”

In the world between the worlds, where the mysteries lie in wait, you will find Hecate. She appears before you in Her Crone form, with a thick mane of moonlight silver hair and intense, amethyst eyes that shine bright with Her ageless presence. She wears a cloak of midnight black that shimmers as She moves, as if brushed with starlight. An aura of light surrounds Her, a way-showing beacon in the enveloping darkness to guide travelers to Her crossroads. Her arms open wide to welcome you, casting a circle of illumination that draws you into its center. 

With a sweep of Her hands, two roads appear before you.

To the left is a neglected path, overgrown with the luscious fecundity of the wild realm.  Memories arise within you of the feral innocence of childhood with its simple pleasures of play and wonder in your dance with the outer world. And beneath this, older, ancestral memories percolate, of a time when humanity lived in loving, sensual communion with the powers and mysteries of the Mother Earth.  

To the right is a paved-over surface that obscures any trace of the living land under an unforgiving, tar black sheen. This path exudes a deadness that lays bare the tear in our human psyche from the natural world and our true, beautiful essence, and echoes with the keening pain of our battered souls and broken hearts.

“Behold the crossroads of these Great Turning times, where humanity faces a critical, precarious juncture in its spiritual evolution,” Hecate says, “Before you are two ways of living and dreaming.”

“One path holds the good dream of humanity where you walk the Earth in accordance with my life-centered ways and your best nature of love, generosity and communion with others. The second path holds the bad dream where your worst instincts of dominion, fear and greed lay barren the wild realm and the heart of your human society. It is this second path, reeking devastation on the living world, that rules humankind.

“Both of these paths exist inside of you and in your greater society. Humanity is neither good nor bad, but some complex weaving that includes the best and worst of your nature.”

With another sweep of Her hands, the two paths merge into one.

“This is my middle path,” Hecate says,” it holds the opposing paths of the good and bad dream of humanity. A mirror path exists inside of you that contains the joy and sorrow, and beauty and wounding of your life story.

“To transform yourself and your world, you must walk this middle path. To travel its ways is to accept and take responsibility for all that you are and all that you have experienced, and from this greater awareness choose whether the good or bad dream of humanity will hold sway in the core of your being. You must choose whether love or fear will rule you.

“Love is the way forward for you and your human kin — love that can hold and heal the sorrow and wounding that burden your soul and the world soul — love that chooses generosity over greed, and communion over dominion  — love that can turn the destructive momentum that threatens this world into a positive new beginning.

“This love is my way, the way of the sacred feminine, that is awakening within you and leading you home to your Deep Self and a better world.”

As Hecate speaks, the light that emanates from Her being shines brighter and brighter. This wondrous luminosity is the very love that She speaks of, offering a beacon of guidance and hope in these turbulent, Great Turning times. Hecate, the sacred feminine, all life on this stunning Earth, your life, are woven of this love. 

Hecate turns to you, taking your hands and squeezing them tight.

“Time is running out. Do not turn away,” She says, “By your choices, and those of your human kin, will your destiny and that of your Earth home be decided.”

She folds Her arms inward, drawing Her brilliant light back into Her body until She is gone, and you find yourself alone under a star-studded sky. Your hands still tingle from Her touch and the responsibility She has bequeathed to you shines strong and bright within you.

After the crossroads vision is done, the real magic begins. With your every thought, every word, every action, you choose which path your lives serves, and the kind of a world you want to create. Never have the stakes been higher; life as we know it hangs in the balance. To change this world, you must start with yourself.

Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

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Charter: A Carmen Figuratum

 

St. Mark's Cathedral, Minneapolis.

Looking up from the hymnal,

I see him, sitting

cross-legged on the altar:

buck naked

(oh baby!),

antlers out to here,

grinning like a jack o' lantern.

I blink, and he is gone.

I stand there, thunder-struck;

though he spoke no words,

my heart is riven, riven through.

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A Fall Equinox Mystery: Persephone and the Sacred Feminine

At the edge of the edge of the sunlit realm, where a rough-hewn stone stairway leads down into the velvety darkness of the Underworld, Persephone awaits you, still and silent, wrapped in a black cloak that rustles in a bone-chilling wind. She is beautiful and fearsome, with penetrating dark blue eyes, pale skin, lips the rich red of pomegranate, and long, lustrous ebony brown hair.

This is not the young maiden Goddess, alight with joy and innocence, that you may have read about in the ancient tales, but a regal being who has fully claimed Her place and sovereignty in the great weaving of life.

“Change is in the air,” Persephone says after She has greeted you, “For millennia, humanity has rejected the ways of the sacred feminine and the powers of the sacred dark that reside within the Underworld. There is a grievous imbalance in your world that cuts you off from the natural cycles and powers of life, and your own whole/holy nature.

Yet the season of humanity is turning and a great awakening is upon you. Your Deep Self is reaching for you, calling you to a life of soul and drawing you back to my side and the lost ways of the sacred feminine.”

She extends Her arm and you wrap your fingers in the soft, black folds of Her cloak. The space around you shimmers and morphs, and you find yourself transported to another time and place, looking out on a scene from when the world was fresh and new.

A younger version of Persephone plays in the meadow before you, picking flowers and smiling Her delight. Her face has the warm tones of skin kissed by sunlight and Her eyes are of a lighter shade of blue gray.

“You see me here when I lived in the bright circle of my Mother Demeter’s loving embrace,” the older Persephone beside you says, “Life was very, very good. The green-growing realm was my playground and I wanted for nothing. Yet I was restless, always seeking the outer edge of things, hungry to know more, experience more, become more.”
 
As you watch, the young Persephone wanders further and further from the meadow and the protective circle of Her Mother. Her light-hearted smile has been replaced by an intense focus, as if She is being drawn forward by a compelling, irresistible force.

A great fissure appears in the Earth at Her feet and a God-like being emerges. He emanates a powerful elixir of animal magnetism and ethereal beauty, as if He is equally woven of flesh and of light. A piercing cold spreads outward from His body, withering the wildflowers and yellowing the leaves within reach of His frosty breath. Yet His somber, coal-black eyes are filled with tender warmth as He gazes down at the lovely Persephone.   

“Hades,” She whispers with a note of longing in Her voice and taking a tentative step in His direction.   

“Come,” He says, extending a hand to Her, “it is time for your awakening.”

For a moment young Persephone pauses, looking over Her shoulder from where She came and then down into the inky darkness before Her. And in this moment, it is as if you are inside of Persephone, feeling the push and pull of Her trepidation and profound hunger in the face of this vast unknown realm. A calm determination rises up from Her core, quieting Her fast beating heart and steeling Her resolve. Then She slips Her hand into Hades’s, a faint smile playing across Her lips, and the Earth closes over their heads, swallowing them whole.

The scene disappears and you are once more standing beside the older Persephone at the stone steps leading into the Underworld.

“Life never stands still,” Persephone says, “Something inside of us seeks the edges of what we know in search of our deeper and greater becoming.

“No matter my worldly knowledge and gifts, and all the lovely things that gave me joy and pleasure, I was incomplete in the sunlit realm of my Mother’s world. The dark side of my feminine nature was missing, compelling me to descend into the Underworld, with Hades as my companion and guide, to find and awaken the dormant pieces of my whole/holy nature.”

As Persephone speaks, the light fades from the sky and a profound stillness settles on the land. Fall is in the air and the natural world, like Persephone, has begun its descent into the secret mysteries of darkness. 

“I tell you my story so you may know the ways of the sacred feminine,” Persephone continues, “To seek the true power and nature of your Deep Self, you must step past the border of your known world into the depth of the Underworld that resides in the inner folds of your psyche and in the mysteries that underlie waking reality.

“When you brave the Underworld and travel its ways, you reclaim what has been lost, the sacred feminine and the sacred dark, and you begin the hard, hard work of returning balance and wholeness to your life and your world. Your journey will not be easy because the trials and revelations of the sacred dark are meant to test and teach you. And yet, if you follow in my footsteps and stay the course, healing and profound change will come.

“This journey of soul begins with wherever you are right now, at this moment. Whatever is ready to awaken in you waits for you in the sacred dark.”

Persephone places Her hand on your chest, sending Her wise teachings into the core of your being. Her story is your story, the story of the turning of the seasons into Fall, and the story of the unfolding of our collective humanity. Always at the Fall Equinox, the sacred darkness opens portals that beckon to a new cycle of healing and growth.

Then Her touch and Her presence are gone. Yet you are not alone at the portal to the Underworld. He waits for you on the stone stairs, a magical messenger to guide your journey back to your Deep Self.

“Come,” He says, His hand extended to you and His eyes brimming with tender warmth,  “it is time for your awakening.”

Take His hand, descend; the sacred darkness and your deepest becoming await you.

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The Social Imperative of the Sabbat

In the topsy-turvy world of the Sabbat, the witch returns to the Dreamtime, in which all social norms are overturned.

At the Sabbat, there are no distinctions of “race,” of sex, of class, of gender.

At the Sabbat, all are equal.

At the Sabbat, if nowhere else, we encounter full social equality.

The stories of those early American Sabbats tell of indigenous, colonial, and enslaved all coming together to dance as one: red, white, black, all equal.

The Sabbat dreams of a new world, a world (as in the beginning) of radical equality.

The Sabbat embodies this dream.

In fact, the Sabbat predicts it.

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