Vol. 1 – Issue 4
Musings From the Mystic Path
The Month of August
When Time Stands Still
This month honors stillness and the simple act of relaxing with a cup of coffee, a good book and acknowledging the need to refuel and renew. Our Focus On section has two articles this month. One honors the Sabbat of Lughnasadh/Lammas and the other is the first of a 3-part Series highlighting Lunar phases.
August brings the first fruits of the harvest and in that spirit, we offer you the harvest of our thoughts and creativity.
Sunday Morning Cabaret
Nonchalantly wake up and check then time.
YAH, Adrenaline rush!
We haven’t missed the sunrise.
I quickly go through the morning ritual
And then softly wake up the family.
It’s coffee time in the back yard.
We shuffle outside, breathing in the fresh warm July air.
The sun is already just above the horizon; but it’s bright rays
Are perfectly filtered through a tall majestic maple tree.
The aromatic scent of our gardenia whirls about in the breeze.
The dogs have taken their tour of the yard and return to sit with us.
We all get comfy; strong, hot coffee in hand.
Admiring the sparkle of morning dew across the lawn and the show begins.
Right on cue, a hummingbird grabs breakfast from our honeysuckle arbor.
Taking his time, he visits so many of the bright pink and yellow trumpet shaped petals.
Robins and cardinals then decide to visit.
Their attention seems divided between the birdbaths and feeder.
Beyond our yard, it seems we can hear the morning melodies of all the
Winged creatures; their songs reverberating from the nearby park.
The sounds of their morning greeting vary so; yet together
Create a glorious symphony.
No concept of time as we are fully enveloped in our sacred space.
We are blessed with a visit from a different hummingbird.
This one passes over the feeder purchased just for him in lieu of the peach hibiscus.
Then I catch a glimpse of a dazzling sparkle among the leaves of the crab apple tree. Its unusual brilliance captures and seduces my attention, a reflection? a fairy? a mystery.
The show just keeps getting better.
Abruptly, two very loud woodpeckers arrive.
Their conversation drowning out the rest of nature;
Solidifying that we are indeed awake and alert.
The caffeine has kicked in.
We get up, stretch, and prepare to tour; so appreciative
Of these moments when we are not rushing off to work.
Our dogs agree as they have noticed a squirrel to quickly chase.
The neighborhood is still in slumber as we start our stroll.
My mind becomes a bit more engaged as beauty turns into inspiration.
Ideas start to formulate.
Work will be needed today and throughout the season,
But no worries as this sacred space is a living and breathing entity.
It requires attention and focus.
It is an exceptional collaboration of our imagination, hard work,
And Mother Gaia.
Late Summer’s Kiss
The heat blazes down like
Lava finding its course from
Molten mouth that gapes open
In fiery yawn.
Sweat forms like a strand of pearls
Around my neck and forehead.
I feel alive.
I am pulsing with this life that is
Both hot and sweet in its embrace.
I surrender to the flow of warmth
As strength and vitality move through me
Etching out their course in wet furrow
Of brow and shoulder blade.
The sun hangs overhead in full glory
No eyes may see its blinding beauty
We turn away and close lids that are
Still not able to veil its mysteries.
The heat blazes all around and
All of the world rejoices in late
Excitement drums up for the encore!
Lughnasadh – The First Harvest
When we think of harvest celebrations most of us think of autumn and the end of the harvest season when we give thanks for a bountiful harvest that will see us through the winter. As the air turns crisp and cold and the last of the crops are brought in we celebrate the good harvest with apple festivals, corn mazes and hay rides. We use pumpkins and squashes as decorations for autumn holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving. The celebration of Lughnasadh, however, is a time to give thanks for the beginning of the harvest. This is a time to give thanks for that first juicy tomato, the first crisp cucumber, the first buttery ear of corn. It is the first of three harvest sabbats celebrated by Pagans each year. Lughnasadh is celebrated in early August, Mabon is celebrated at the time of the Autumnal Equinox, and Samhain, celebrated near Halloween, marks the end of the harvest season and the transition to colder, darker days. Lughnasadh is a time for giving thanks for the first bounty and also a time to pray or work magick for the continuation of the harvest.
In the past, when people lived off the land, a good harvest could mean the difference between surviving the winter and a slow death. They celebrated each cycle of the growing season, from planting to harvest, thanking the gods at each phase. Even today primitive peoples around the world continue to celebrate and strengthen their ties to the land. While a poor harvest will not lead to death in most modern cultures it is important for us to remember where our food comes from and honor the growing season, the farmers who produce the food, and of course Mother Earth for providing for us.
The name Lughnasadh (loo-nah-sah) comes from the Celtic deity Lugh (loo). Lugh was the king of the Tuatha de Danaan, a supernatural Irish race founded by the goddess Danu. He is a solar deity who in modern days has been associated with the harvest. He was also the god of skills, including the skill of warfare. Indeed, in the Ulster Cycle he is said to be the father of the great Irish hero Cu Chulainn. He has also been associated with the Roman god Mercury. Traditionally Lughnasadh festivities included feasting, animal sacrifice, and wedding celebrations. Lughnasadh has been referenced as Lugh’s wedding feast symbolizing his marriage to the land. Indeed this holiday is often considered a time for marriages or hand fasts. It has also been associated with a less permanent arrangement called Telltown marriages. These marriages were to last for one year and at the time of the next Lughnasadh the couple could choose to dissolve the relationship if it did not work out.
More commonly Lughnasadh is referred to as Lugh’s funeral games in honor of his stepmother Tailtiu. According to the stories, Tailtiu helped prepare the fields of Ireland for planting and died from exhaustion from her efforts. To honor her memory Lugh set up the Fair of Tailteann (Telltown). This festival was held annually around the first of August and included athletic events, games of skill, and feasting.Another name for Lughnasadh in Ireland was Bron-trogain, which literally means “bringing forth from the earth”. This was a time of protective magick when the first fruits of the harvest were ritually eaten or sacrificed to the gods. Additionally animals were purified and blessed by water.
Some refer to this first harvest holiday as Lammas. This comes from an Anglo-Saxon celebration which eventually blended with Celtic traditions as the Anglo-Saxon culture spread. One Lammas tradition was to bake a loaf of bread with a cross carved on it. This was then broken into four pieces which were placed in the four corners of the barn to protect the livestock. Many Lughnasadh celebrations today still include the baking of bread. Another Lammas tradition which has persisted into the modern day is the making of corn dolls. The husks of the corn are tied into little dolls which provide protection and luck in the coming year.
Today Lughnasadh is a celebration not just of the harvest, but also of gratitude for all abundance in our lives. We may make offerings to the gods of foods made from grains, such as bread or beer, in honor of the food harvest. Additionally, this is the time when we see the results of the intentions that we “planted” in the spring for our personal growth. It is a time to reflect on the goals we set for ourselves in the spring and assess and give thanks for our progress towards those goals. This is a time of transition, and as the sultry heat of summer starts to give way to the crisp coolness of autumn this is the perfect time to reflect on our efforts so far this year and course correct if necessary.
This is also a time of sacrifice and rebirth as the plants are harvested to provide our sustenance. In honor of the sacrifice of the grain we can sacrifice something ourselves, whether we shed something that we no longer need or sacrifice our time to help others. The food harvest provides life-giving nutrients for us and the cycle of life continues. So too, will our sacrifice give birth to something new. By ridding ourselves of something we do not need we make room for personal growth. And, by giving of our time to help others we can make their lives just a little bit better.
This first harvest is the perfect time to reflect on everything and everyone in our lives for which we are grateful. But it is also a time of great joy and celebration, and not as somber as the later harvest celebrations. So, bake some bread, can some vegetables, make some corn dollies, give thanks to the gods; but, most of all play games and have fun! I leave you with an excerpt from one of my favorite Lughnasadh chants by Ian Corrigan, 1997..
Hoof and horn, hoof and horn,
All that dies shall be reborn!
Corn and grain, rice and rain,
All that falls shall rise again!
Blessed harvest tidings to you all!
A Three Part Lunar Series..
“A new moon teaches gradualness
and deliberation and how one gives birth
to oneself slowly. Patience with small details
makes perfect a large work, like the universe.”… Rumi
Throughout time and in many cultures, people noticed that the moon is full of light every 28 days and often have given names to each appearance of the full moon. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, names for full moons in the United States are drawn from the Algonquin language and are usually based on observed natural phenomena. The full August moon, which will appear on August 18, is known by several names, such as Sturgeon Moon, Green Corn Moon, Grain Moon.
As we celebrate Lughnasadh on July 31, the moon will be approaching its dark phase. The dark phase of the moon occurs between the last crescent of the waning moon and the first crescent of the new moon. Dark moon will occur on August 2.
The dark moon is a time for introspection: What do I want? What do I feel? What is important to me in relationships? How do I continue to connect with Spirit?
Moving toward the full moon, it becomes a time to going outward: What do I want to develop in myself? What do I want to bring to fruition? What do I want more of, to expand in my life? What do I want to create and bring into manifestation?
Between the dark moon and the full moon, there will be time of growth in grain, vegetables, fruit. Young animals that had been born in early spring are now exploring their world. Insects are thriving. Listen for crickets chirping now. Bees are making honey to store for the winter. The air is heavy with heat and humidity and the sun is sending lots of burning rays. This is a time to get outside, feel the freedom of muscles relaxing in the heat, breathing deeply.
This ebb and flow, growth and expansion balanced with pulling in, outward expression and inward examination, light and dark, are always reflected in the moon. Take note of its phases and see how the moon touches your life and your own moods, changes, and growth. Honor your own darkness and your own full light.
First Steps on the Seeker’s Path
In Search of the Divine – Part Two
Roads Less Travelled
…..”The search for the Divine requires nothing more than opening to your own wisdom and place of knowing. And, yet it is exceedingly complex in how to go about that task. At every moment we are in the presence of the Divine. We breathe in the inspiration of the divinity of Life and exhale the creation of new life as response. Follow the breath of this release back to its point of origin; spiraling inward to a self that serves as the sacred vessel of the Divine incarnate. Breathe in the Divine and exhale as Divinity.”
I left you with these thoughts in last month’s post, and it is with these words, that I begin the next. All of the choices made in how and what we consider “Divine”, are roads that always wind back and from the source of that inquiry. At times we find ourselves at the mercy of a GPS that has ceased to function because of frequency disturbance and takes you around the same block multiple times, course rerouting at each turn and still focused on the same end point destination.
So, you turn the irritating device off and switch into auto-intuitive pilot; surprising yourself that navigation is not as complex as you thought. This very approach is now the road less travelled because something so simple didn’t even register as an option; complexity being the worshipped norm.
Think back on a time when you found a little side street or back alley that revealed that shop or restaurant that now has become your favorite. One that you do not willingly share in the location, somehow feeling that this little piece of discovery is yours and yours alone. This is not coming from a selfish place; instead it is anchored in the continued feelings of wonder and excitement of that first discovery made that bubble to the surface each time you think on or visit that “sweet” spot.
The detours and discoveries we find on our spiritual paths are often those that are the most authentic in their design. Flowing organically from our inner wisdom (or Goddess/God Proximity Sensor) that remains attentive to the end destination. Try this little exercise:
In your home, make your end goal that of standing in front of a mirror (if you do not have a wall mirror, place a hand mirror where you may easily pick it up to gaze into). Now, move to the furthest point in your home, from where that mirror is located. Walk towards it taking the shortest route to get there.
When you have come to where the mirror is located, look at your reflection in the mirror for several minutes. Make note of every nuance of your facial features. Breathe deeply into what you gather of this information. Turn and walk to another point in your home, away from where the mirror is.
Turn, and begin once again to walk back towards the mirror, but this time, take another route. No matter how large your home is, if necessary, circle round a piece of furniture a few times or go outside and then come back in. The point is to take a different path then the original (and shortest).
Again, when you come to where the mirror is located, look at your reflection in the mirror for several minutes. Make note of every nuance of your facial features. Breathe deeply into what you gather of this information. And, once again, turn and walk to another point in your home, away from where the mirror is.
Repeat this process, this time taking yet a third route to get to the mirror. On this journey, be creative and allow yourself to flow with whatever path you are drawn to get back to the mirror. And, on this route, make note of what you pass or observe in your home as you are walking towards the mirror. Try to take in everything you can regarding the journey itself.
When you have arrived at your destination, once again, gaze at your reflection in the mirror. Breathe into this image now savoring also what you observed on this route taken to get to this end point. More than likely, this is the road less travelled in your home. By that, I do not mean that you have not moved through these spaces multiple times each day, perhaps; but how often have you taken the time to observe and acknowledge what surrounded you as you passed through?
And, in companion to this acknowledgement is the gift of arriving at your end goal, each time- the same image staring back at you, regardless of how you got there. What of that image? Well, that my friend is the Divine! You, in all of your radiance. You, staring back waiting to be seen as you truly are. Breathe now into this acceptance and realization. It is that simple, yet we forget that the road less travelled is the one that moves into the space of knowing who and what we are.
Take a step
On the Path
Treasures and gifts
Nourishment and hope
All await the seeker
Who ventures within.
Embrace each detour
Welcome each change
For what you are
Seeking is only steps away.
The true path lay
Just ahead and is
Ablaze with your
Light that marks
Out the way.
Take a step
On the Path
Eyes wide open
Heart beating strong
Body moves with grace
Mind knows the way.
Eyes wide open
Beauty of reflection
You have arrived at your destination!
Next Month: Part Three-Where Do I Go From Here?
The Witch’s Pyramid: A New Perspective
More Info: Click here
Stock photos, unless otherwise noted.
August Header and Summer’s Kiss credit: R. Fennelly
Sunday Morning Cabaret credit: M.Q.
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