Vol. 3 – Issue 4
Musings From the Mystic Path
The Month of August
Happy August! This month is the setting for the last hurrah of Summer before school and return to work. The holiday season will shortly be upon us and before you know it, we’ll be ringing in the New Year! So, this is precisely the time to step into the twilight, cool down and explore what this special sliver of time offers as respite from sun, heat and vacation overload.
By Definition, Twilight is…..
1 : the light from the sky between full night and sunrise or between sunset and full night produced by diffusion of sunlight through the atmosphere and its dust; also : a time of twilight. 2 a : an intermediate state that is not clearly defined.
This last definition is the one I want you to hold on to as you read through this month’s written treasures. This intermediate state is one of not having to commit to anything and having the freedom to “make it up as you go along”. Sounds pretty good to me, given the regimented nature of most people’s lives. The sweet transition from sleep to beginning your day and/or ending you day into sleep offers the potential for anything to be imagined and created. We start that process with one of our featured writings and a musing about the evolutionary nature of Deity expressed and molded by technology. “Journeys On the Yogi’s Magick Mat” explores the metaphor of sky and mind, and “First Steps on the Seeker’s Path” returns with the call to community and a return to humanity. So, curl up in your favorite spot, take a few deep breaths and settle in to the betwixt and between as twilight brings you serenity…
“Twilight fell: The sky turned to a light, dusky purple littered with tiny silver stars.”
– J. K. Rowling –
Musing on Techie Gods
I’ve been thinking a lot the past few months about how the gods* may evolve. It seems like many of the ancient gods and goddesses, many of whom have been all but forgotten by humanity, are making themselves known today. Additionally, many of those who did not fade into obscurity have become more vocal. Some say the Morrigan has become loud and insistent! And some are simply showing us a different side of themselves. (Anyone remember Brighid the Warrior who made her VERY powerful appearance during one if Robin’s classes a few years ago? She was not the gentle healer!)
When we consider that many of the ancients were associated with more primitive or agrarian societies I can’t help wonder why they would want to come back to this world and how they could be relevant to modern humans. I suspect that many of them have been quietly watching until they were needed or until there were receptive humans seeking them. I also believe that many of them have been evolving during their time of silence. I am not the same person I was 20 years, or even two years ago. It strikes me that so, too, might the gods change. Could they have evolved to use technology?
Even though the gods can’t use our technology the way we can, I don’t think it means they can’t use it in their own way. They may inspire us to use modern means of communication to get their message out in the form of blogs, writings, etc. and I’m sure all of these please Toth!. And the gods have always inspired artists and musicians, maybe they also inspire modern engineers and scientists leading to the discovery of life-changing inventions!
Perhaps they can communicate with us directly using the airways and electrical currents. Have you ever started a Google search and discovered something awe-inspiring? Perhaps that search was not as random as you thought! Did you hear a song on the radio that gave you an answer to a problem you’ve been pondering? Maybe somebody was talking to you! Whether they use us as tools to interact with technology or send their message to us via Wi-Fi I think they are definitely savvy to technology!
Much like the way us older folks had to learn about technology to help us relate to the younger generation, I suspect many of the gods have adapted so they can stay relevant to us “kids”. A god who keeps our cow’s milk production flowing will not find much of an audience in modern society. However, if that same god can help keep the electricity flowing to our refrigerators he or she will win our praise! While I wholeheartedly believe it is important to listen for the voices of the gods in the sounds of nature perhaps we may also hear them in the whirl of the washing machine or the voice emanating from the television.
So there you have it, the result of my weird, rambling thoughts this weekend. Here is the article that triggered my urge to assemble my thoughts into this communication: Millennial Witch: Working With Technology (& The Gods to Call for Help With It)
“Evenings and mornings represent “the gates” to your inner universe. Taking care of how you enter and exit these “gates” is your primary responsibility; do not give away this power. Once you master it, life will never be the same again.”
– Stan Jacobs –
Resting At Dusk: A Recorded Pathworking
This is a live recording of the pathworking used for Session Five of the Solar Magick series. Following the journey of the Egyptian Solar Barque, we descend into the West with Atum-RA guiding the way. This is the time of sacrifice and preparing to cross the threshold of life and death entering the Du’at. We can use this energy now, as we settle into the calm of what will flow into a season of harvesting and the retreat into the warmth and security of our homes as winter settles in. Click on the following link: Solar Magick: Resting at Dusk
“Know what you want to do, hold the thought firmly, and do every day what should be done, and every sunset will see you that much nearer the goal.”
– Elbert Hubbard –
Lammas: The Sacrifice of the Harvest
The blade is sharp
Scythe swings in
Flashing arc as
Sheaf of wheat
And apples fall
The Harvest now begun.
Gather the grain
Leave what you must
Fill carefully woven baskets
With the overflowing bounty.
Roll and knead
Loaves of bread
Baked in ovens
Hot from wood and sun.
Breadman filled with
Herb and savory
His great sacrifice
Pulled apart by
Hunger’s needy call.
Consume the energy
Swallow the light
Feel the great
Blessing of living grain’s
Sustaining of all life.
No time to linger
Fields are awaiting
The reaping and
Grain man’s sacrifice
As humanity peacefully
Slumbers sated on sacred
Harvest with warm bellies full.
Another turn of the Great Wheel and the first harvest is upon us. This Sabbat is known as Lammas or Lughnassadh depending on where and how it is celebrated. Lammas is derived from the words “loaf mass” and refers to the harvesting of the grains, preparation and baking of bread in celebration of the gifts of the season. The God may take the form of the Green Man, the Harvest King or Grain Father. Lughnassadh gives honor to the Celtic Solar God, Lugh and his cycle of waxing and waning energy. It is his willing sacrifice that ensures that this and the subsequent harvests will be prolific in their bounty. Regardless of what title is given to this Sabbat the themes of gathering what has come to peak, the sacrificing of what must be offered for continued survival and the carrying forward of what has been purposefully selected are prevalent.
As we continue through the cycle of the Wheel, two more harvests will occur in the process of breaking down what has been planted and subsequently allowed to grow. The second occurs at the Autumnal Equinox (sometimes called Mabon) and the third and final at Samhain. Looking at this triune cycle we see the energy of excess, balance and last vestiges giving way to decay and the composting for new growth. The first harvest offers the abundance of overflow for selection and the need to thin out what could soon overcrowd. The second, a weighing and balancing of what is coming into readiness and the third a final clearing away and gathering of anything that had been overlooked and remains. This harvest is also marked by death and the necessary slaying of the healthiest livestock for the meat to be kept for the long winter months ahead.
The time of the Lammas harvest marks the end of the growing season and if successful, is blessed by overflowing baskets of summer vegetables and fruit; setting into motion what will hopefully be the standard for the remaining gatherings. Grains are in abundance and at their peak, the sheaves of golds and browns awaiting the scythe of reaping. The tempting aromas of freshly baked bread and fruit pies call us in from field and orchard. And, as we gather this abundance to ourselves and our loved ones, the great sacrifice of all that is left behind or cut too early is transparent to us.
This cutting down of what is ready for the taking offers us the opportunity to clear the way for those things that will be newly planted after the frost of winter holds their seeds in slumber. This time of the harvest allows us to feast on what will nourish and sustain us in the darkened months ahead. This harvest offers us choice to carefully select only those products that have reached the peak fullness of their energy as we cut away what stands in our path. However, none of this can be achieved without the necessary sacrifice of what no longer serves and will decay and wither if left to stand. And, it is this point of sacrifice that is celebrated and honored in the Great Wheel of our own cycle.
In the cycle of the God and Goddess Lammas also represents the union of the sun and earth in their forms as the Sun God Lugh and the Mother Grain Goddess. It is the sun that has enlivened the earth and brought the fullness of their union to be harvested. And, now that his solar energy is waning, the God must also serve as the willing sacrifice transformed as the sheaf of wheat to be cut down and offered by the Harvest Mother so none will go hungry. This aspect of sacrifice is honored in the gathering of oats, wheat and barley. The baking of the traditional Bread Man from the dough of the newly cut wheat is a way of consuming the energy of the harvest, gifted by the living spirit of the God now transformed into the harvested grain. The cycle of death and renewal is acknowledged by the seeds that remain from what was harvested and will be used to plant anew in the Spring. And, we become the living essence of sun and earth, God and Goddess.
We can also think of this ending of the growing cycle and the waning of the sun as we set to the task of harvesting what has waxed in form as the necessary place of neutrality and pause before action is begun again. Within this space of neutrality is held the intention of sorting, picking and gathering of what is sustainable and what is not. It often also means allowing the course of this process to move in an organic and supportive way. In other words, not resisting what is part of the natural cycle of our own planting and reaping.
This time of the year is an invitation to harvest what you have planted in your work and your life, both spiritually and mundanely. It is the time to stand fearlessly and with great care scrupulously cut away what no longer serves and will not sustain you through the time of turning within and the continued waning of the year. The tricky thing about sacrifice is that for most people the idea of sacrifice usually pertains to something that they willingly give up. There is the implied choice in the matter and although sacrifice can be disruptive and emotionally charged deep down there was still the ability to choose what the sacrifice would be. The sacrifice I am referring to implies neither choice nor selection. But definitely requires faith that all will be resolved in a productive manner if you are willing to surrender to what must be. Sacrifice in its refined form is the release of something that you ultimately want to cling to, whether negative or positive in its form despite the negative impact that you THINK it will leave.
The courage that is needed is one that will allow the sacrifice of what you are least expecting to be removed so that your inner fields may be readied for new growth. And, the further requirement is that of offering up gratitude both for what has filled you and for what has been taken away. The energy of gratitude is one that is magnetic in receipt and release. It attracts those things to you for which you are able to show more gratitude. This in its own way is sacrificial in nature as well. It requires that you see the gift in what is experienced in your life (even when it does not appear to be a gift) and offer up your own energy in acknowledgement.
So, as you celebrate this turning of the Wheel in whatever way is in keeping with your path and as you eat heartily of what the season brings, give pause to remember what remains in the fields that will serve as compost for Spring’s planting. For without its sacrifice the harvest would not yield such sweet gifts at the next turning.
The Intersection of Moon Phase, Astrology, Elemental Energy, and Magick
August. A month usually associated with long summer evenings, hot days, splashing at the beach, water ice, bare feet. We will have all this, and more. This month begins and ends with the Moon in it waning gibbous phase in Aries, a cardinal fire sign, with the Moon moving into the fixed earth sign of Taurus on the very last day of August. In between, there will be a partial solar eclipse on August 11, while the new Moon will be in Leo, a fixed fire sign. Even though we won’t be able to see the solar eclipse, which will be visible on the north of North America, in Greenland, in Northern Europe and north-eastern Asia, it will still affect us. The glorious summer sun light will be obscured, even though for a short time. This waning of the Moon’s light at the beginning and end of August, along with the solar eclipse, reminds us that the Wheel of the Year is turning, that the summer will soon move into fall, and we will have less sunlight each day. The fiery energies of Aires and Leo will be waning or eclipsed with the Moon’s phases. The Moon will move into Taurus on the last day, and so the Wheel turns, everlasting.
Time moves differently for me in August. I spend days at the beach, and I have no idea what time it is. I spend time at the library where I work, and the clock’s hands seemingly never move. I know exactly, to the minute, what time it is. I plant herbs or seeds or bulbs in the spring, or last fall, and in August, birds are eating from the seeds being offered by huge sunflowers, I am picking tomatoes, pickling cucumbers, picking arms-full of lavender. Just a little while ago, my little garden patch was covered in snow. Now it is covered by green growing stuff, not all of which I planted.
And the fireflies are gone. They emerged with the warmth in June, lived their lives looking for mates, and then laid their eggs and are done by August. They only live for two months. Their effervescent light has dimmed. As the great artist Paul Cezanne says, “Right now a moment of time is fleeting by! Capture its reality… become the moment.” All we have is this moment, now, this one, only this one. And it is gone.
The element associated with Aries is fire. Fire can burn so brightly, it can destroy: think of the sun. Or it can burn down to the embers after a bonfire: the afterglow of the fire that had burned so brightly so recently. We can re-kindle the fire from the embers, or we can let it die down. Fire has its own life: a beginning, a fullness, and a waning. Aires is a cardinal fire sign, indicating new beginnings, starting something new, igniting the flame. Fire is never static; it is always moving.
Lammas or Lughnasadh is cross-quarter day festival that Wiccans celebrate at the beginning of August. It is the day that falls between the summer solstice and fall equinox. In 2018, Lammas will occur on August 7, when the Moon will be moving toward its dark phase and will be in Gemini, a mutable air sign. Lammas will be influenced by Gemini’s energies of quick thinking, adaptability, changing with the times.
Lammas is a harvest festival, in which the first reaping of the grains has begun and the wheat is baked into loaves of bread (or loaf mass, or Lammas). In other words, the manifestation of plenty from the earth is subjected to the heat of fire (in the oven or hearth) and is thus transformed into life-sustaining bread. We need the light and heat of fire to live, yet this is starting to wane in the summer month of August. Time, light, heat: all are fleeting. What can you do to hold onto the memory of August’s gifts? Remember Gemini’s mutability: can we adapt to differing circumstances? Can we learn to thrive as times change?
One way to remember the time, sun, light, and heat of August is to enact a ritual. In this ritual, we will reach back to the time when we were welcoming summer: Beltane, and then reach forward to time when we will be welcoming darkness: Samhain. At Beltane, we lit a candle to our own inner God/Goddess and re-ignited passion for/within ourselves and brought our light to the world. At the time of Samhain in 2017, we lit a candle and looked for a rhythm in its flame and I suggested that the fire could speak in sound, rhythm, and patterns and that you could let the rhythm of the fires dance within you. This fleeting time in August would be a good time to go outside. Let the light of the Moon and the Sun be your candle flames this time.
First, gather your materials.
- Bread, or cookie, or cracker: something that contains wheat.
- Water: clear, fresh, cool: just enough to take a sip or two.
Next, focus on the process.
- Go outside.
- Find a field where wild greenery is growing. Pick a single stalk of grass, with a seed head, if possible. Or a clover. Or an unknown green being, small and unassuming. Thank it for giving its life to your working. Pluck it and carry it with you while you work.
- Find a space where you can see the sunlight or moonlight. Make yourself comfortable and allow time to flow without pressure.
- Listen: can you heard birds singing? Cicadas chirping? Lawn sprinklers running? Children playing? Or, silence? Tune in.
- Smell: can you smell grass that had been mowed recently? Bar-b-que cooking in the neighborhood?
- Taste: can you remember cold ice-cream on your tongue? Or slurping cold watermelon when you were a kid and had been playing outdoors all day on a long-gone summer?
- Touch: can you feel the sun warming your skin? Or the feel of the bench you are sitting on? Or the feel of sand-grass-ground-tarmac? What can you touch with your finger-tips? With your toe-tips? Take note. Try to remember.
- Sight: Look around. See sunlight or moonlight that has reached you from untold thousands of miles away and can still illuminate our tiny little planet in the cosmos. This light has passed through darkness to reach this planet, and this spot on the earth. Remember this miracle.
As you anchor yourself into a particular time and place through your senses, it is time to un-tether and reach out to the infinity of time-no-time. Take up your blade of grass that has also reached out to the sunlight so that it may live. It requires photosynthesis to thrive; it breathes in our exhaled carbon dioxide and breathes our oxygen, so that we may live. We are an integral and intricate part of the web of life. Look at the grass, touch it, smell it, listen as you rub your fingers on it, and if it is safe to do so, touch it to your tongue and taste it.
Lay the grass on the ground. Pour a drop of water on it. Let it begins its decomposition and its return to the earth so that the cycle will continue.
Take your container of water. Hold it up to the sunlight or moon light. Look at the light through the water, let it be permeated. Then drink the water, knowing you are drinking in the infinite light that has traveled thousands of miles through darkness to reach you.
Take up your piece of bread. Remember that this is made of grain, that had recently been green and growing. Now it has been harvested, threshed, ground, mixed, and then subjected to flame so that it became nourishing bread. Eat some of the bread and leave some of the bread on the ground so that small creatures may share in the bounty of the earth, and let it begins its decomposition.
At this time of between-times, ending of summer and beginning of fall, the cross-quarter between the equinox and solstice, remember that you are at a cross-road. The light will be waning, the heat will be lessening. The Wheel will turn. Remember Beltane. Look forward to Samhain. Who were you then: Who will you will become? As the great Beatle Paul McCartney, said: “Let it Be.”
“Find a part of yourself hidden in the twilight.”
– Fennel Hudson –
Journeys on the Yogi’s Magick Mat
” Every Posture Is a Journey Not a Destination “
Gazing up to the floating clouds across the sky, a well known summer amusement while lounging in a hammock in your own back yard or at the beach. How many generations have been settling in among fields of flora and looking up to wonderment. So many conversations have revolved around the clouds, their color and shapes against the atmosphere. It is a convivial pastime that stirs up the imagination. Where some may see a face, others see a country or accessory or instrument. There is such a range of possible perceptions, yet our mind tends to automatically search for familiarity. We play along, reach out, interpret, and look for meanings in random patterns. Imagery is used all the time, Psychologists and doctors would say this could be classified as apophenia or pareidolia. Mystics, magicians, shamans, healers and the like utilize this method for divination work. Yogi’s (myself included) use it on our yoga mats.
Many have heard the comparison, “Our minds are like the sky, our thoughts like the weather (or clouds)”. It is a lovely proverb for those with running “monkey mind”. Like so many, the constant barrage of thoughts is quite irritating, especially when I am settling into a meditation or yoga practice. Imagery, similies, metaphors are wonderful tools that can appeal to our senses and can focus the mind. Hearing the name or description of a posture, tends to pull my attention away from work, the list of chores, and when my friend is going to call. It steers my thoughts.
As much as I appreciate learning Sanskrit, English is of course, initially easier to visualize. Many postures already have a commonly used and recognized modern name such as the mountain pose, downward facing dog, or corpse pose. This imagery can do more than help shift my body into the posture. It can direct my journey.
So in mountain pose, with my arms down at my sides, I will think of the word, mountain. What it is? A protruding piece of mother earth. Elevated land, standing tall, regal, proud. How does my body reflect this posture? My outstretched arms extending down, like a cascading range. What is the weather or energy surrounding my mountain? What energy is attached to me that I have brought to my practice? What shall I let drain down my sides. Will my work day roll off from my tense shoulder peaks? Am I standing tall, erect beneath my own transpersonal chakra, connected to my divine peak.
I no longer berate myself if I hear a posture and my mind continues on thinking about it. The names are inroads and I find running with the imagery can lead to my own wonderful experiences and insights.
I was never really crazy about bridge pose. It is not hard for me, I can appreciate the posture as a counter stretch to other work, but it is not my favorite. Recent experiences have changed my opinion. Now, when I hear the word bridge, a journey begins. A bridge is a link, it spans and connects things. New correspondences come to mind. I can use this posture as a reminder to connect the various parts of myself, my lower, middle, and upper self. Bridge pose can be my reminder to take what I learn while in meditation off the mat, connecting my spiritual path with all endeavors. What else should I bridge? What parts of my life can benefit from the contemplative, receptive stage I move into while doing yoga?
There is a posture while seated on the floor, feet on the floor in front of you, legs bent, knees up, and hands on the floor in back of you offering support. The asana involves moving and lowering your knees to the left and then to the right, back and forth. You often hear, like windshield wipers. Perfect simile! This moving asana is usually done after harder work and postures, perhaps involving the legs, core or back. And so a gentle, moving stretch can shake off any residual back or leg discomfort; just as windshield wipers disperse unwanted rain. Next thing you know, your channels are clear again, you have open, blue skies.
Finding my own connections is part of my journey and path, but I have found it so helpful when a yoga instructor uses imagery. There is a great instructor that I only get to see once a year at a retreat. Towards the beginning of class, as we are slowly moving and loosening the body, she will say to listen to what your body needs. “Move in a way that feels like chocolate ” and just like looking up at the clouds, it resonates and speaks to everyone.…..Namaste…. M.Q.
First Steps on the Seeker’s Path
This month’s post reflects the need I feel to offer up reminder about our place in the greater whole of humanity. Domestically and globally, division is reeking havoc and where we should be mindful of our humanity and collective community, attention is drawn to our over magnified differences. I hope this offering will settle into your core for further thought….
Flowing Into Community
Strip away the masks
Strip away the illusions
Strip away the isolation
Strip away the desperation.
Strip away the bright joys
And the sorrow filled
Victories of darkened soul.
Break me down in surrender
Strip away the flesh
And render me further
Still to hollow bone.
I will still have
What connects me to
The conscious whole.
I will always have the
Refined and informed self
I have tested and diligently
Trained on the embattled
Fields of community
And interwoven paths.
Despite all that may
Be taken away I will
Always have the sweet
Memory of my humanity.
How do you define “humanity”? What is your contribution to the collective space of humanity? How does your spiritual path support this definition and contributions?
For me the word “humanity” means many things. It is the collective species of humans of which I am a part. And, it is the action of expressing those human qualities in a way that is in alignment with all parts of myself. This second definition is the one that I most often get hung up on. Finding my humanity in my emotional self means being able to understand how my responses form the base from which I interact (or react to) with others. Finding my humanity in my actions means accepting the consequences for those actions and than relying on informed decision before proceeding. Finding my humanity in my thoughts requires that I am open and aware of the balance between rationale and logic and creative inspiration. Finding my humanity as I manifest, possess, and leave my physical “human” imprint in the world demands that I honor and respect my physical form, world and state of being as the tool I have been in the lifetime. And, looking at the connectivity of these definitions cycles back to the first definition of the collective species of humans.
This is the greater responsibility of exploring the defining properties of your own humanity. Now, for me this, thins brings to mind another thought. I see this process of definition intimately connected to the simple (yes, I did use that word in association with the next statement) pursuit of defining your life’s purpose. This is where it gets a bit tricky; although if we were able to continually be in alignment with our higher selves – ALL of this would be a moot point. I like to think of the seeking and self-inquiry that I engage in in revealing my intention (life’s purpose) in this lifetime is one of contributing to humanity by virtue of my place within it.
The more I learn of myself, the more I can identify and resonate with in others. Everyday that I acknowledge my physical self and the gifts of being able to express myself through all of my elements and parts is a deposit into the bank of humanity. And, to the last question about how my spiritual path supports this. Because I have chosen a path that seeks community and common experience and does its work, even as a solitary practitioner, with the intention and realization that we are interconnected to all life, humanity by default is part of the work of that path. We seek to individualized and yet to also remain cognizant of our place in the collective whole. Our strivings are those of living our spiritual truths 24/7-365 days a year, making those achievements gained the pearls of wisdom that reveal the true nature of our spiritual self. Humanity flexes its muscles and stretches reaching towards the limits with each act of kindness. And, although many would not agree, I think humanity learns the boundaries of overstep and force in each act of injustice. As humans this is how we learn and grow and although unpleasant in some instances, many times these actions that show humanity at its less than desirable, gives rise to something productive and uplifting from the depths of adversity.
So, I will hold myself accountable each day for how I chose to express my humanity and offer up gratitude for the experience of being human.
(Excerpted from: The Light of SELF. Available here..)
“The redness had seeped from the day and night was arranging herself around us. Cooling things down, staining and dyeing the evening purple and blue black.”
– Sue Monk Kidd –
Musings From the Mystic Path is published monthly by Coven of the Mystic Path, ASW.
Editor: R. Fennelly, HPs, CMP, ASW
Columnists: L. B., Tesseract and India Amour, Journeys on the Yogi’s Magick Mat
Contributors: Membership/Petitioners of Coven of the Mystic Path, ASW
All rights reserved and maintained as intellectual property of the author. If you would like to re-publish any content herein, permission should be obtained and proper citation given to the author.
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Art: The Sacrifice of the Harvest- DeepBlueRenegade on Deviant Art
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