Lughnasadh

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ughnasadh also known as Lammas, Lúnasa, Lùnastal, Luanistyn take place on  August 1st or thereabout and find us celebrating the first of three harvest rites.   While the timing is not necessarily technically middle of summer-in the PNW it is the middle of our hot and sunny season of the year and it is now that food stuffs are becoming ready for harvest and processing.

At this time in the PNW roses are still blooming and fragrant, yet the abundant hips are starting to turn a bright red signaling that there are changes coming.  Wheat and oats have ripened and are ready to be cut.  Grass hay and alfalfa have been baled and put up in our barns and fill the air with their fresh mown scent.  Vines have climbed high reaching towards the sun’s rays with hop flowers being readied for tea or beer and grapes sweetening in their ever-tightening skins to be eaten fresh or made into wine and jellies.   The puddles have long since dried and the water levels are getting lower in ponds and rivers which find little tree frogs, salamanders, bees, jackets and wasps crowding around watering holes and fish barrels.

As pagans, we have specific rites on special days as a way of bringing everyone together to raise energy that we may realign our frequency and sense of purpose to the season’s activities both internally and externally.  However, the sabbat days we celebrate together are not the beginning and ending for us, but kick off an entire season of nurturing, maintenance, gratitude and harvest.

In the season of Lugh or Lammas, we honor deity and adorn our altars with sunflowers, red hollyhocks, elfwort, heather, roses, poppies, indian corn, blueberries, blackberries, squash blossoms, nasturtiums, topaz, carnelian, yellow gold and red candles.  Ripened cereals of oats and wheat along with the first foodstuffs of corn, green beans, artichokes, crab apples, eggplant, early squash, a few grapes, mulberries, plums, pears and apples are added and generate gratitude in our hearts for the cyclic relationship we enjoy with our Earth Mother.    Grasses and grains are fashioned into a Grain Goddess with plenty of seeds to save for next year’s sowing. Flours of wheat and corn are made into fresh loaves of bread and an anatomically correct John Barleycorn is added to our altar.

At this time we call to the Goddess of Abundance of the God of the Green.  We give offerings of gratitude, enlivening our hearts and rejoicing in the abundance all around us.  We acknowledge the strong life-giving sun while recognizing the change in shortened days require a shift of duties and focus.  A noble and brave man is chosen to sacrifice himself for a time as John Barleycorn so that our cycles of give and take may continue.  We use this time to clear out our physical and spiritual storehouses of that which no longer feeds or nourish us, so that we may make room for the strongest and most nutritious energy sources to sustain us during the fallow time of the year.  At this time we have walked between the worlds and have gathered the required energies to move forward with the harvesting tasks at hand.  We drink and pay homage to the old gods and call upon their continued favor for our crops that we have the energy to continue our journey.

Each area around the world has smells that speak of the seasons and for us in the summer season, it is bilberry/blueberries, blackberries and apples.  It would not be summer in the PNW without the sweet pungent smells of those fruits baking in the sun. Blackberries, blueberries and apples are so nutritious and are eaten fresh, made into pies, syrup and wine.   Can’t get enough of the blackberries!  The lavendar has dried and been stripped of their stalks to be added to spell-workings and Full Moon Shortbread.  The beauty and abundance is all around and fills my heart with gratitude.  Though I will admit that all of the hard hot days of work see me longing for the cool crisp autumn nights and I relish the casual relaxed evenings with my family, the bbq’s, cool down swim time and midnight desserts.  We ponder the work/life balance, knowing the necessary hard work in the next weeks leading up to Mabon and continuing into Samhain will end with a cozy firelit evening to rest and contemplate further the journey of our souls.

How do you celebrate the summer harvest and what smells signal summer for you?

Bright Lughnasadh Blessings to you and yours!

Litha

celticTomorrow we embark on a midsummer journey.  The Litha solstice brings us to the longest day and the shortest night of the year where the Earth is at the midpoint on her journey around the sun.  The word “solstice” is from the Latin word solstitium, which translates to “sun stands still”  Depending on the year Litha will fall between June 20-22 or the 25th which was the Old Litha.  Litha is also known as Alban Heruin and Midsummer’s Night.   Historical writings have shown summer solstice celebrations all over the world and continue today as we honor the Old Ways.

In the Pacific Northwest, we are surrounded by the lushness of summer beauty

Summer Solstice Litha Wreath

Solar Wreath fire @ Rosethorn Manor

due to the warmth.  Usually we are still experiencing some precipitation, however, this year has been unseasonably hot for us.  The gardens are bursting with roses, lavendar, honeysuckle, mock-orange, rhodies and lungwort.  The apple trees have little baby apples that we have spent many an hour culling so that larger apples may grow, but not be such a burden on the trees.  We are keeping an eye on the just budding St. Johns Wort that will be used in our protection bundles at Lughnassadh.  The promise of abundance is everywhere and continues to grow until harvested at Mabon.

At this time we approach the sacred grove in perfect love and perfect trust, setting aside our difference and stresses of the mundane world to celebrate the Goddess in her lushness.  We honor deity and adorn our altars with yellow flowers (sunflowers if I can get them to bloom in time), yellow candles, bouquets of rose, peony, lavendar, mugwort, thyme, rue, fern, cock feathers and iris.  Fruits of the garden such as early strawberries and oak & holly leaves.  Stones of lapis, tigers eye, jade and moss agate round out the frequencies we are aligning ourselves for the season of Litha.   We praise the Horned God in his passionate love for the Goddess and the abundance and life their joining brings. In ritual we call forth the Sacred Spark of light and life to ignite change within ourselves, drawing on the strong and long light to bring forth balance and sustain us in our journey.  We give offerings of honey cakes which are a favorite this time of year, remembering to leave plenty for the bees.

We close our rite by lighting a fire to Brigid and focusing on the necessary balance and changes needed in our life-sacrificing that which no longer sustains or benefits our journey so that we make room in our storehouse for the inspiration that will enable future abundance in our lives and our work.

How do you celebrate this sabbat in your own life?

Blessed be the season of Summer!

Tarot Tuesday

                                       the TOWER

“After a great blow, or crisis, after the first shock and then after the nerves have stopped screaming and twitching, you settle down to the new condition of things and feel that all possibility of change has been used up. You adjust yourself, and are sure that the new equilibrium is for eternity. . . But if anything is certain it is that no story is ever over.”
― Robert Penn WarrenAll the King’s Men

Tower Tarot Card

celticT he Tower-change is a coming-blessed or be damned.  The Tower is a difficult card representing turmoil in our lives, there are no two ways about it.  We are trucking along thinking everything is going okay and ‘bam’ the Tower shows up, usually at the most inopportune times.  The Tower is generally known to mean danger or crisis is on its way as well as unforeseen change.  The Tower arrives to challenge the narrow structure that defines our lives or our security based on false beliefs about ourselves and our world.  It is a situation or occurrence sent to wake us up because up to this point nothing else has worked.

The major arcana cards are always an indication that our spirit is trying to speak with us…..the Tower is telling us that Spirits knocking has gone unheeded and will be ignored no more.

The Tower has always brought to mind the old stories of alchemists in the tower working furiously at magic, attempting to challenge currently held beliefs regarding the scientific order of things in the Universe as well as dabbling with otherworld energies for the wrong reasons.  The overstepping due to ignorance or ignoring the warning signs cause the Tower to explode sending everyone overboard.  Inner and outer realities collide with real-world consequences……what inner red flags have you been ignoring regarding what is right for your soul?

 

 

 

The Witch’s Garden…..and Sacred Space

“If such a consciousness truly is set loose in the world, nothing will be the same. It will free us to be in a sacred body, on a sacred planet, in sacred communion with all of it. It will infect the universe with holiness. We will discover the Divine deep within the earth and the cells of our bodies, and we will love her there with all our hearts and all our souls and all our minds.”   Sue Monk Kid

lugh afternoon

Raised beds and stone circle @ Rosethorn Manor

I The Witches Garden

step into my witches garden full of intoxicating scents and sights that fill my soul.  T’ween dusky dark and evening dew……these two magical times of day see the garden wrapping around its witch in a hug and beckoning me to commune and engage in the magic that surrounds.  I am embraced and enchanted by the scents of spring roses, heady lilacs and early blooming wisteria.  The freshness in the season of Beltane is a spring tonic for the soul that chases away the cobwebs of winter.

Earth magic is one of the oldest, easiest and most general forms of magic

Beltane Bouquet

Lovers Beltane Bouquet @ Rosethorn Manor

practiced, for we are but star seeds enrobed in earth.  The earth is our bodies and the blood of the ancestors sing in our veins, informing our DNA, our frequency and the very core of our magic.

For a Witch, the land is sacred and we have many rites and rituals that honor her and express our gratitude.  For me and mine, our land is also representative of our relationship with deity.   We have lived and worked this land at Rosethornridge for over 20 years.  Our land sits smack dab in the middle of older forests and new replants and is acreage that was originally logged and left.  She was very sad and a bit crestfallen when we purchased her and took up residency.

Through the years we have worked very hard to bring back balance and harmony to our little neck of the woods.  Intense practices of planning, organic farming, permaculture and forest scaping our space have created a haven for people, animals and nature spirits alike.  We have built beds for flowers, shrubs and trees that nourish the soul, heal and feed the body, while aiding in our spiritual practice.  Natural places have been incorporated to keep the wild mystery of the old ways alive.  There are places to work and spaces play, perches to rest with a glass of sweet tea and contemplate the greater mysteries.

Every working on our place is created with intention as it is representative of my family’s relationship with deity, the trinity of the God, the Goddess and us.  The blood, sweat, tears, love, joy and thoughts throughout the changing seasonal sabbats are our conversations with deity.

Butterfly & Delphinium

Butterfly & Delphinum @ Rosethorn Manor

The consistent and intentional cultivation of our space also intensifies our magical workings since herbs, flowers, roots, seeds, buds, leaves and other offerings of nature have been recipients of our attentions over many weeks, months or even years.  Each plant has been welcomed to Rosethornridge,  sown into the earth and nurtured through the love and attention it receives.  When we dig roots for dark moon magic or gather roses and lavender for a lovers enchantment we have now, in turn, become recipients of the energies of the Earth.  By creating sacred space and offering our gratitude through mindful intention, we have formed a bond and aligned ourselves with the plant energies long before they are ever harvested.

As with all worthwhile endeavors it has been a process to be sure.  After many years of mindful intention, a frequency is now present that allows the spirit energy of God & Goddess to be made manifest on the earthly plane, independent of its residents.  We endeavor to continue our symbiotic relationship with the land as an expression of our spiritual lives and practice.  How does your garden grow, we would love to hear from you.

Blessed Be & Happy Cultivating!

Adventures of the Two of Wands

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y card for today…. Two of Wands. This card leaves me hopeful. Oftentimes read as a card on the precipice of stagnation due to feeling hemmed in from the steadfast structure and empire we have created for ourselves and those around us. I often see this at times when people are restless and unsure of what to do next because they’ve held so tightly to beliefs about what they should be doing or how they should be doing it both for themselves and perceived by others. Generally, this card has a character with a crystal ball or the Earth the Heart Center which means I am hopeful that today will bring about information where my heart and mind can come to some alignment or agreement about the next steps I need to take on my path.
How do you all read the Two of Wands?