The seasons, they are a-changin’, to paraphrase wildly. I don’t just mean from summer to fall, these several weeks back. The weather worldwide is different and it is beginning to make me wonder how to plan the seasonal observances that keep me anchored to this world I love. The other night, I went out late to walk in the brisk breeze that was stripping golden and rose leaves — that darkling photo is the rose-gold of the dogwood tree, almost bare now.
Of old, back in the 1990’s , we used to celebrate Beltane when the apple tree blossomed; and cross-year Samhain when we harvested apples at the first full moon in Scorpio. This year, that full moon is mid-November and the deer harvested the apples – golden ripe – in mid-September! Even then, at times, we laid the fire for Samhain at the new moon in Scorpio – as we will do this year’s new black moon.
But we feel late, out of synch. My holy days, as a humanist who finds whatever fleeting signs of divinity there are in nature, have ever been built around the freshening spring rains and the leaf patter on autumnal windows. This year, it is all a-kilter and I have no fire-pit. In my over crowded half acre — the best place for a struggling Sequoia sapling was in the deep hallowed hole of the family fire pit where sabbat fires had burned for over 20 years. So a small metal ring in a circle of chairs must suffice?
I tell myself, that as fires grow more rare – as even June’s Summer Solstice has been too hot and dry for fires in recent years – that I can do with a smaller fire. No flames leaping twenty feet into the air come rain or shine! I remind myself that urban witches and pagans make do with small cauldrons or candles. I ask myself, severely, if I am a “good” pagan if I cannot acknowledge the suffering nature I see around myself by contenting myself with less?
So, into the golden dark we go here, like the wind whipped leaves of the golden gingko bonsai that sits not far from my manmade fire ring. I plan my ritual of ending my ritual year — what goes into my fire to say goodbye, what I let go and what I will hold fast. A dream in the night saw me at a feast with the divinities my family once chose as those they would most like to see as real — and I lifted a piece of golden honeycomb to my lips and bit it, honey running down my chin in such tactile fashion that it woke me! So honeycomb will be sought and incorporated.
We will stand with fire-lit faces and open ourselves to hear our world, the human world and the natural world where we have wrought our havoc. We will inquire into the nature of reality and spirit and strive to hear an answer from the winds around us and inside our own busy skulls. And on the dawn, Monday, we will step into the season I call the “Fallows” to work towards the calendar’s New Year in earnest humility and inner searching. This year, that Fallows holds within it a Presidential election and the fate of our nation and world. And yes, that old superstitious brain stem of mine so wishes for flames leaping 20 or 30 feet into the midnight sky!
May you find blessings for yourself and your world in your own way, if this sabbat is one of yours. And Blessed Beltane to those of you in the Southern Hemisphere who celebrate. If not? Well, Happy Halloween — and may the dead that are and those to be? Have mercy upon us all!