Tuesday, August 14, 2018

High Summer

I have said before in this blog that I am not a Summer person; heat and humidity makes it my least favorite season. But I will admit to a special affinity for High Summer at the point of Lughnasadh when the corn has tasseled and stands waiting to be harvested. There is something that speaks to the spark of life at this time of year. There is an accomplishment that is both glorious and bittersweet that reaches back through the ages and loves us into life.

First Harvest, the traditional gathering time for grains, has a golden aura about it that embodies the Sun. It also gives witness to the beauty of selfless sacrifice for the continuation of Life through dying. It makes death purposeful and reminds us of endings. Without endings, there would be no reason for beginnings.  The end of things gives opportunity to rebirth and regeneration. Without the end, we would never have the chance to become new. Becoming new is messy-disrupted fields where once  proud heads of grain bobbed gently in the rain and wind, trees shedding their leaves everywhere...to be carried away by a sudden warm wind; the scattering of seeds for tomorrows crops.

It is a time of romantic stories written in the past to tell the truths of life and death. One of my favorites is the story/song of John Barleycorn. The original concept of the character has been around in one form or another for centuries, but my favorite is Steve Winwood's arrangement of the British traditional classic which he created in the 1970s. Winwood recorded John Barleycorn Must Die while a member of the English folk/rock group Traffic, and re-recorded it as an acoustic solo the video which I am including here because it is told so beautifully:

A blessed First Harvest to you, may you grow from this place and reach the place you desire.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Coexistence: Spirituality, Science and My Way

Simple spirituality was formed out of our human need to connect with Mystery. I believe that even those who profess to be atheist are still hard wired to have questions about the deep Universal truths and Mystery. Everyone wonders where we came from, how we arrived where we are, and why we're here: those questions are etched in our very souls. Humans have had those questions for thousands of years and have not, despite developing countless means of doing so, managed to answer them- at least not satisfactorily. And we may never do so. That is the Nature of Mystery.

I am trained in both Religion and Science and hold post graduate degrees in Comparative Religion and Psychology. I never thought of the two to be at odds with each other, so I suppose that's the reason I find answers in both with little conflict. At one point in our human history, the two were yolked together, both sides of a single coin. One did not exist without the other: The Church, that bastion of belief and superstition, slowly begat Science through the evolution of its Colleges and Universities, until the two finally branched off into the individual disciplines we know today. But it wasn't always so, much to the chagrin of the practitioners of each.

Those who cleaved to the Spiritual side became the keepers of  the non physical part of being: soul seekers, sorcerers, wizards,witches, and initiates of various theologies. They were priests and priestesses, and interpreters of the occult. Likewise, Science begat scientists, explorers of the natural order who looked to the stars and culled the study of intellect and practical reason. They eschewed the pneuma in favor of bodies of knowledge and processes.

It remains my humble opinion that the two can coexist logically and to the benefit of all. There will still be parts that will be with odds of one another, but those parts will eventually be explained, as they are being explored continuously and new theories formed everyday. The Craft is, after all, the place where belief is suspended- spiritual and scientific. The Craft is an experiential entity. It is different and unique for every individual who has ever tuned into the vibration of a crystal or combined herbs in spell work, or cast a circle or simply stood in silence with the gods.

Laurie Cabot, the 'Official Witch of Salem' explains this wonderfully: the Craft is a system that combines religion, art and science to utilize the magickal forces of the Universe and nature. There is nothing demonic, nothing supernatural about it. Anyone can use magick with work and practice, and in fact, that which is loosely defined as Occult is not hidden when brought out of the shadows. More on Laurie's thoughts can be found here:https://www.lauriecabot.com/understanding-witchcraft .

Many years have gone by, and I still practice a Craft which is fully immersed in Nature and the Mysteries. At times I use the example of archetypal gods and goddesses that allow me to clarify the intention behind my work. I have patrons across several pantheons who speak clearly to me and to whom I connect spiritually, and my rituals are highly personalized. This is what works for me and what I depend on to shape my spirituality. You may do things differently- as it should be. I will admit that there are elements of practice which make me cringe, but if they work for others? All is right for them. I will keep my way as you keep yours.

May you be blessed by your journey and discovery!