The Wheel of the Year is the engine that drives NeoPagan practice. Explore thw magick of the season beyond the Eight Great Sabbats.
The Sensual World
Summer is the time of lived experience, rather than reflection. In the Summer's heat, we tend our gardens, we travel, we play, we party. The long days of light and the beautiful evenings encourage us to go out, to extend ourselves, to flirt, to drum and dance around campfires. We blaze like the Sun, with the ecstasy of living and experiencing this beautiful World. Our senses reel – the air is perfumed with flowers and filled with the songs of birds and insects. The Sun can be brutal on our skin, and the shock of cold water when we dive in can sting with delight. We revel in the taste of juicy peaches and sweet corn. In the Summer we come into a sharp awareness of the sensual World: our living planet as we experience it through our senses. It feels almost redundant to analyze any of this. What Summer teaches us is to live fully in the moment, to be present here and now. This is where we find joy, where our bodies and spirits are made whole in the healing caress of pleasure and play.
An unexpected death in my family at the beginning of the season added the trauma of grief and loss to a time of growth and excitement, but ironically it served to underline the in-your-face immediacy of Summer. Along with all the sensory pleasures was the sharp bite of grieving and sorrow. The demands of the garden and its labors balanced the sudden tasks and burdens that come with a loved one passing. And all of it brought home the fact that all we truly have is this moment, and this moment is fleeting. It will never come back, and once gone is gone forever.
At Lughnasadh (August 1), we hit the tipping point of the season. Although the Summer itself is at its halfway point, it has now hit its peak and the harvest begins. We have to name our harvest in order to claim it, but despite our hard work, our rewards are not yet certain. And despite the fact the growing season is not over, we must begin to reflect and assess on what we have sown. What is our harvest, is it ready? Does it need a little more time to fully ripen, or did it fail to come to fruition at all? Does it need to be plowed under? How much space do we need to clear out in our lives, to bring this harvest in? Part of Lughnasadh's ritual work for me is to re-read the dedications and intentions I made six months earlier, at Imbolc. In looking over those goals, I have to evaluate what I managed to accomplish, what still has to be done, and what no longer seems possible or necessary. There's always satisfaction in seeing what you have accomplished, but even the so-called “failures” can be instructive. They make us consider what we need, what quality of will or execution, in order to fulfill what we set out at the year's beginning. They reveal to us whether or not these goals were realistic, whether we bit off more than we could chew, and sometimes they reveal even deeper needs or desires hiding underneath what we told ourselves we wanted.
But no matter what, taking the time to savor the moment, to find pleasure, beauty and joy in living our lives, is what makes all the work and worry worthwhile. Regardless of what our harvest is, the Earth radiates abundance and love, and we have access to that abundance in every moment of our lives, we when we open ourselves to receive the many blessings of this sensual World.
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