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Yesterday we (the Wiccan circle at San Quentin State Prison) did a combination Midsummer and Fathers’ Day celebration, after the noisy Juneteenth celebration in the main prison yard. We have to meet when and where permitted, and with limited access to such things as water for bathing or bonfires. (There is water for drinking.)
Most times we meet in a little storage room off the breezeway where the Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Islamic chapels are. It is literally a storeroom, with stacks of folding chairs and tables and old file cabinets. Since I’ve been going there the file cabinets were moved. At this point, it’s been cleaned out enough that we only have two tables and a bunch of stacked chairs. It’s considered to be the Minority Faiths Chapel....
It may well be my first memory.
I'm laying in the dark screaming, terrified of the thunder that has wakened me. My father comes into the room and scoops me up into his arms.
We're moving. I distinctly remember passing from the darkness of the hall into the light of the kitchen. My mother is saying: Russell, what are you doing? Russell, what are you doing?
He carries me out the back door. Rain is sluicing down. We both must have been soaked through immediately, though I don't remember noticing. Out we go, into the heart of the storm.
By Midsummer's, the garden is really starting to kick in and feed us. There on the traditional Scandinavian Midsummer's Eve table, along with the caraway cheese, the deviled eggs, the new potatoes and dill, the cucumbers in sour cream, the roasted baby beets, and the strawberry-rhubarb pie, is this absolutely stunning puree of asparagus and fresh garden peas: the very essence of green life.
If ever you've wondered what Midsummer's tastes like, this is it.
Green Pea-Asparagus Puree
The cop car careens up into the park, right over the grass. It slams to a stop; two doors fly open simultaneously and a cop leaps out of each one, hands on holsters, poised and ready to go.
Welcome to our Midsummer's Eve.
There we were, up on the highest hill in the metropagan area: us and folks from our sister coven. We'd decked ourselves and the picnic tables with oak leaves. We'd sung the songs, danced the dances, and shared the feast of new foods.
Now it's sunset, and everyone's gone up to the top of the hill to bid farewell to the Sun at its latest setting of the year.
Except for me. Here's old Uncle Steve, right in character, down in the park running around with the kids. There's even one sitting on my shoulders.
I don't know what the cops were expecting. Something nefarious, I suppose. Something occult. Black hooded robes and a virgin in a white gown.
Jewish leaders speak about the need to protect trans lives. Native Americans protest the appropriation of artifacts from their culture. And Chinese and Taiwanese scholars mourn the loss of a Confucian philosopher from among their number. It's Faithful Friday, our weekly segment on faiths and religious communities from around the world! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
Even in the land
of the starving
barren of nurturing
of communal cohesion
and direction for
the lost children
what bits of
I could find
built and grew
made and found
My ripe fullness
can be painful
waiting to be
picked and made
bursting with fine
I dream of others
in our similar
across the wasted
ley lines of life