Tag Archives: pagan pregnancy

Lammastide: Of Sacrifice & Harvest

Lammastide Harvest Altar, 2015
Lammastide Harvest Altar, 2015

This weekend comes the First Harvest celebrations… Lughnasadh, or Lammas, for many. And, a Blue Moon. This is a time of harvest, but also of sacrifice. Of Life and Death, of Blessings & Giving Thanks and also of Mourning and Loss. So is the continuing thread through the next twelve weeks of harvest before the Winter comes. The give and take, life and death, sowing and reaping. As the first harvests are coming in (or have been coming in the last few weeks), some are also preparing their soils and garden beds for their fall and winter crops.

And how I can attest to such polarities, here on our little urban pagan homestead.

In the handful of months that we have been here since uprooting everything and leaving it all behind for the promise of potential a continent away, we have known blessings and strife, harvest and hardship. We have watched as our vegetables wilted and dried under the unusual early summer-heat (we had a few weeks of 100+* weather, essentially no rain since April, and though it had begun to cool back down, the heat has returned again to scorch the earth anew). And we have watched as the bees flew from blackberry blossom to blackberry blossom, and soon before our eyes the entire hedgerow of the property had turned from a swath of white and pink petals buzzing with the voices of a thousand bees to a sea of sun-ripened plump berries needing to be picked almost every day. We have walked back to the house many a night now with purple-stained fingertips and scratches on our arms and legs: our blood sacrifice to hungry thorns. We have watched as a mother hen protects her new young hatchlings, showing them how to scratch about in the dry earth, and mourned as we buried our three new ducks killed in cold-blood. My heart has swelled at the sight of seeing Queen Anne’s Lace flower umbels filling the entire back-half of our far garden and popping up in every other place they can (from walkways to along sidewalks and roadsides). My fall harvest of seeds will be momentous. Our trees have done the best out of anything growing food on the property—trees that need little interference from us humans on their behalf (if any, besides occasional watering for the younger orchard trees)—producing multiple types of plums, apples, and suddenly we have figs coming out of our ears. And some of the pear trees have fruit on their boughs as well as the almond and old, old walnut tree. I have taken in the first couple tomatoes from my two plants, which have known their own summer struggle.

harvest_tomato

And as it is, the outer world has its sacrifices and its bounties, so too do we, in our inner worlds. We have been blessed with much, but have also sacrificed much. We gave up close family and friends, a support network, and largely a sense of security to be the Fool and step willingly, blindly, with a leap of faith into the mist-filled ravine, hoping our feet would touch down on the Rainbow Bridge. And, in many ways, they did. A large part of moving out to the West Coast was to provide me with a midwifery apprenticeship, which I was blessed with within our first two months here. And then just as suddenly, it was gone. “It is best to wait,” they said. Wait… wait? I’ve been waiting for what seems like ages… what literally has been years, and now I must wait again. At least another year of waiting. I read the cards again and again, and they the same…. A time of rest, of gathering yourself before moving on to the next phase in the Wheel…. Inner-work and growth, a time of dreaming…. And, to not give up. To persevere on this path, for I have made a dedication to this path, this path of the Wytch-Shaman-Midwyfe, and to my gods. That no matter how long this journey takes, I am on it, and I will find fulfillment. And so I bow my head to the Powers That Be, and remember my dedication, and I breath the fire of this hot summer into it, into my endeavors, my work and study that the embers may not go out, and I also sit back on my heels and begin the planning of the ultimate harvest this year: the birth of this child growing and wiggling within my moon-belly.

Needle-felted Brigh doll and offerings to the Spirits from our land: plums, figs, apples, and homemade sourdough.
Needle-felted Brigh doll and offerings to the Spirits from our land: plums, figs, apples, and homemade sourdough.

This is also a time when traditionally couples would make their ways to the fields and promise themselves to each other—handfastings of a year and a day were common-place around Lammas in Old Europe. So not only does this time of year have to do with harvest and sacrifice, but also Commitment. And so, I am called this Lammastide to re-dedicate myself to this work, and take my official Vows to Brigh, the Bear Mother, She of the Red-Eared Cow, Goddess of the Honey-Tongue, Lady of Forge-Fire, as one of Her Priestess Midwyfe-Healers. I think it is time, to ‘make it official’. To remember why I am doing this, for whom I am doing this, and that, as Jung would say, “If you are on the Journey, you are at the Goal.” So many times we spend reaching for the goal, only wanting the goal, and once we attain said goal, we realize that we missed out on the entire process, we walked the journey with blinders on, our eyes fixed only to the light at the end of the tunnel. I do not want this to be that way, I do not want to live life that way….

And on a final note, while we have been here, learning this land and greeting its spirits and learning ourselves along the way, I was told to write a book. A book on working the land as a pagan, as a witch. Of returning to this way of life in our magic, spirituality, and mundane lives. Whether it is a couple containers with some veggies growing on your porch and herbs in your window sill, or a full-on homestead of any acreage, this book, whenever it is finished, will be for you. It will have charms, spells, prayers, offerings, and devotionals dedicated to the processes of life and cycles of the earth, of the ways of home and hearth: sowing, tending, harvesting, ‘laying the earth to rest’; the raising and butchering of animals; home and barn blessings, cooking, ‘hearth-tending’, housework, different deities, and so on. It is being put together as we work, as we labor and harvest, as we utter words of blessing and reverence and thanks over dark soil and growing plant and prepared meals—words that seem to come into our minds and out over our tongues sweet like honey from somewhere Other. And so, in ending, I give you one of the Harvest Blessings, one that came to me during our first purple plum, red raspberry, and red clover harvest.

Blessings of the Gods upon us

Blessings of the Ancestors upon us

Blessings of the Spirits upon us

Blessings of the Trees, the Plants, the Waters, and all the Earth upon us

For a bountiful harvest we have reaped

And for a bountiful harvest we give thanks, and feast!

 harvestaltar5  harvestaltar3

Many thanks to Frey, to Lugh, and all the Others for their Sacrifices that the Land may be Blessed and Flourish~ Many thanks to Brigh the Bright One, She of the Fields~

– Wren

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Shifting Tides, Time for Good-Byes

The time has come. Finally, it has come. And everything comes crashing down around me with the furry of a storm off the eastern sea. And yet it is not total destruction, it is simply the energy needed to shift the sands and shape the world anew. Our world. The sand beneath our feet. There is a tidal wave rising, swelling, pulsing within my chest, struggling to burst the seawall that it may wash over everything and cleanse it. Bringing with it new life, healing energy, and creation out of the destruction of the old it has laid waste to. Our old patterns, our old life, our old home, is being swept away. But it is being replaced by potential, new starts fresh out of the damp spring-sun warmed soil. It is being replaced by a new home, new plans (or shifting kaleidoscope images of old plans), new risks and new patterns, and new life.

Gifts from the sea~ Mermaid's Purse Skate's Egg, Crab Claw, and Sea Turtle Egg
Gifts from the sea~ Mermaid’s Purse Skate’s Egg, Crab Claw, and Sea Turtle Egg

For like the seeds stirring in the dark womb of the earth as the strength of the sun returns and the buds leap forth onto branch and limb, so to does life quicken within mine own womb. For so long I had fought it, for so long we toiled over the labor of preventing life, of keeping my dark earth barren. For so long I whispered to the dark– please, not yet. Please, not again. I made bargains and pleaded, asking for this or that to be in place first. And once the Universe finally dumped those things so unexpectedly into our laps, not a handful of days later did Universe also see fit to set life to stirring in my belly. I suppose I got what I asked for. Funny how those things go. But I am thankful. For it all. For the chaos, for the turmoil, for the sadness, for the joy, for the uncertainty, for the dreams, for life. I am grateful.

springbradfordpearsunset
Bradford Pear Spring Flowers with Sunset

 

And yet, as I look around this place that I have called my home for so many years, I realize that as much as I have fought and reached for a place beyond here… I have made roots here. They have begun to reach deeper into the earth here than I realized. Seeds had even begun to be planted and sprout here. This place is home, and yet now we must say good-bye. To Place and Land and Sea and Home and Spirits and Friend and Family… we must say good-bye. Honey and oil and milk and blood have been given here, we have awoken Spirits here who know us and love us as almost kin… and we must say good-bye. My heart aches with a pain I had not expected nor prepared myself for. My belly tightens with anticipation and fear, and uncertainty. And tears of longing and grief pour from my eyes onto sand and soil. How do you say good-bye? How do you prepare to part ways from a Spirit that has loved your child and protected house and land and has seen birth and death in your family, and stood sentinel for it all. How do you say good-bye to an ocean that has baptized you into mysteries still being unraveled, that has taken your whispers and tears and whishes to its depths, that has fed you and kept you as its own for so long… I don’t know. But it is time to say good-bye.

Drumming at the Beach
Drumming at the Beach~ Starting to Say Good-Bye