This was originally posted on the Patheos blog Nature’s Path, August 17th, 2016.
Last month I wrote about the holidays of Lammas and Lughnasadh, waxing both poetic and academic about their ancient origins and relevance to us in modern times. But this month, I’m writing about how I actually celebrated the holiday, possibly for the first time in my life.
Like I wrote previously, summer, especially late summer, is a brutal time for me in which I am usually too hot and too rushed to do much celebrating of anything, especially if it requires time and effort. I’ve also been away from my congregation and its CUUPS chapter all summer, doing my clinical pastoral education at a local hospital, and therefore weren’t participating in events they were organizing — even my beloved full moon drum circles. But with the growth of our two children out of being babies and toddlers, my partner and I are increasingly feeling the need to make the wheel of the year fully present in our household and how we construct our lives as a family. So this year, he put together a Lammas feast.
Oatmeal Apple Bread, Chilled Berry Soup, Herb Fritters (dipped in honey my mother had brought back from a trip to Ethiopia), Armoured Turnips, Baked Acorn Squash, Blackberry Pork Ribs, and Cucumber Mint Sorbet were all on the menu. My cousin opened up her home (and her wonderful kitchen) to us as the space to celebrate. When the rest of our family had arrived, there were three generations spending the evening together honouring the precious bonds of relationship and the turning of the seasons.
I have not done coven work in many years, and even when I did, those relationships were not very strong for me. I know many for whom this is a powerful and necessary practice for religious community and spiritual growth — it just never worked that way for me. Perhaps that’s why celebrating the actual holidays has been traditionally a struggle for me — they are, fundamentally, about the interdependent web of which we are all a part, cycling through the wheel over and over again, and I personally cannot tap into that ritually without having a web present with me, holding me in its embrace.
That night, surrounded by my family that has supported me through thick and thin, eating food prepared by my partner with deep and abiding love, and watching my children weave themselves into webs of their own creation, I found a way back to myself. What a gift we are given when we are open to creativity and collaboration.