Harvest, and standing on the edge of something bigger

Aside from my ‘aargh I’m an idiot’ previous post, I haven’t posted anything for seven weeks, and my religious and spiritual practices have been even scarcer. I did nothing to celebrate Lammas, Mabon (yes, I know there’s a lot of arguing over the use of that word, but it’s the one that was most commonly used in the resources I found when I started looking into Pagany things, and became habit) went past with me pointing and going ‘oh look, Autumn Equinox…’, and my altar slowly gathered more and more dust. But it turns out I’ve done more than I thought I had over the past few weeks. I’ve been at my new job for a month and a half now, and while I can’t wait to get back to working in London as soon as there’s any available, the change of scenery seems to have helped my spirituality if nothing else. Also, apologies if this page takes a while to load, there are a lot of pictures.

This weekend just gone, I actually celebrated the harvest season by doing a very minimal Harvest Home thingy. On the Saturday I made snickerdoodles (recepie below) and ate most of them, but I’d kept part of the dough back and left it wrapped in clingfilm in the fridge, for I had plans! My job is up in Cambridgeshire which means I’m only home at the weekends, but on the plus side the view I have when I’m eating lunch is this:

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Cornfield, trees, hedgerows, distant farmhouses, huge wide sky. Very different from the views on site in London.

Which gave me an idea. There were a load of flattened corn stalks near the cabin where the lorry that delivered it had driven, with a few still upstanding near where I sat. So one week I brought by boline with me, took it into work, and harvested five ears of corn, one for each of the Deities I honour, and one for me.

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Properly harvested too, as my boline is sickle-shaped.

So on the Sunday after I made snickerdoodles I threshed and winnowed the corn, ground it using my mortar and pestle, and baked it into the dough I’d kept aside. I made two giant snickerdoodles, one with the rough-ground corn in the middle and one with it pressed into the top, and used one for my minimalist ritual. And it was very minimalist – I cast no circle, only lit my altar and Deity candles, and did no ritual-y actions. I just sat in front of my altar and chatted to my gods, sang along with Steeleye Span’s Marigold/Harvest Home, and broke bread with Them. Well, broke snickerdoodle. I used the one with the corn on top, and the next morning I ate my half (getting up at 5:30am and driving for an hour and a half I need all the energy I can get) and left the other half outside in the flowerbed for the wildlife as an offering.

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I ate the smaller half and it tasted gorgeous, even at sparrowfart.

I realised as soon as I sat down that I’d missed spending time in front of my altar. It didn’t help that it was in dire need of a clean and clear-up which I didn’t have the energy to do, or that there was so much I wanted to get done as relates to my spiritual practice and this blog that I became procrastinatrix extrodinaire when it came to anything non-temporal. So a lot of the chat had nothing to do with harvest, but was me saying things like ‘I’ve missed being here’, ‘I’ve missed talking to You all’, ‘sorry it’s taken me so long to get around to this’, ‘thanks for putting up with me’, and ‘I need to spend more time here in the future’, interspersed with periods of silence when I just appreciated being able to sit in front of a clean altar with my gods again.

Oh yeah, I’d also cleaned my altar as well as baking. Because it seriously needed it. I mentioned in a previous post that I’d moved my altar’s location and posted a photo. I also said at the time that it needed a damn good clean, which I did nothing about. So this, but with two and a half month’s more dust:

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I’m not proud.

Oh gods… So I took everything off and cleaned the table. I washed my altar cloths. I ironed my altar cloths. I took things like my chalice and offering bowl into the kitchen and washed them up. I dusted. I swear, I did more houseworky things that day than I’ve done for a long time. My flat isn’t an utter tip mind you, but dusting? Only ever happens when I want to use a thing that has dust on it, not because decorative items have dust on them. And while I was washing and dusting and ironing I had some of Pagan Dreams altar incense burning on the bare surface. The somewhat damaged bare surface, as the Ikea side table I use had come with the flat and was therefore second-hand.

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It has a sort-of burnt sugar smell but without the acrid note, and a sort of woody scent, and I could still smell it when I went to bed. 🙂
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My altarware in the draining rack next to the washing up. Tres kitchen witch, no?

So I cleansed my altar table, the cloths, the utensils. I dusted the statues, the candle holders, the implements. I rearranged some things so I had more of a ‘working area’ at the front. I took some things off and added some things. Granted, the area around my altar still needs a damn good tidy and clear-up, and I need a better way of storing things under my altar that isn’t cardboard boxes full of things, but I now have a shiny clean altar that is a pleasure to sit in front of, and which honours my gods a lot more. Granted I’ve recently been remembering/bothering to pray to Them just before I go to sleep, but not keeping what is essentially Their space looking presentable is not good devotional practice.

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Proud!

It’s been strange though, over the past few weeks. I’ve been feeling like I’m standing on the edge of something as regards my spirituality, like there’s something big going to happen, or that there’s going to be a lot more in my life. It may be a premonition, or it could just be a consequence of my actually getting up off my arse and doing things. Because looking back, although I feel like I haven’t done anything, I’ve actually done or seen a lot of little things that have added up. I was lying on the lawn outside my building on my way back from shopping just before I started on this site, and while I was looking straight up at the clouds a raven flew overhead. Now I know ravens are more Odin’s birds than Freyja’s, but they are carrion birds, and Freyja is also a slain-chooser and dead-feaster, and while Her battle-woman side isn’t the one I honour, it’s still a part of Her.

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Seriously, a raven flew overhead…

So a couple of days later, quite possibly the Sunday before the Monday I started, I cleaned my Fehu necklace. While the obsidian and dragonwood beads had stopped the tiny copper ones from being in contact with my skin and turning exceedingly green, they had lost a lot of their shine and were in places starting to look a little verdant. So I did a small devotional thing and got out the jewellery polishing cloth. And it made a lot of difference:

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I’d almost forgotten how shiny it was supposed to look.

I also did small devotional harvesty things these past few weeks, mostly at weekends. I have bad arachnophobia, and coming upon them unexpectedly in my house is a nightmare. However, there’s a chemical in conkers that they don’t like, so every year I go to the local park which has an abundance of horse chestnut trees and collect a load of conkers to put in bowls on every windowsill in the house. Now I knew I’d need a lot of conkers as I have nineteen windows, but I may have overestimated… Gathering them was a lot of fun though – I wandered around the trunks singing the song we sing at Treadwell’s Open Circles to cast the circle: ‘enter the circle, enter the circle, bring what you have to give, take what you need’, picking up the gorgeous glossy conkers as I went. Clearly I’d arrived at perfect conker time, as not only were there loads on the ground but, I swear, it was raining conkers. There was one tree where you could hear them fall, and when I stood underneath it I am not joking, one fell every thirty seconds. I got loads from that tree, and also, inevitably, got hit on the head by one. Let me tell you, a terminal velocity conker to the head bloody hurts… I got so many there that before I left I laid my hand on the tree and said thank you for all the gifts it had given me, after I’d laid my hand on the earth in thanks for all the other gifts of conkers I’d recieved.

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These were left after I’d filled all the bowls. There’s at least a kilo of conkers in there…

I even had seasonal reminders of the turning of the Wheel at work. Not that hard really seeing as we’re out in the farmlands and countryside, but I spent the whole day of the Equinox with Marigold going round my head, and since I’ve been there there have been skeins and skeins of geese flying overhead on their way south for the winter. It’s an impressive enough sight to begin with, but when they’re flying over just as the sun’s starting to break through the cloud at 8am on the morning of the Autumn Equinox, well…

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There was one day I was working in a corner of site and they flew over so low that if I’d stood up they would have hit me…

I’ve also started to pick up Roderick’s Three Hundred and Sixty Six again, after doing nothing with it since the beginning of January (!), I’ve walked through the park rather than along the road when I go to or from my parents’ place, and, most excitingly, may be joining a coven. I’ve also been to church twice this past month, which I have a horrible feeling is more times than I’ve managed in all the previous months put together this year, but the details of those two things will have to wait for another post, as a) this one is already very long and b) it’s getting late and I need to make my lunch for tomorrow and pack to go home as I drive straight from work on Fridays.

But it’s loads of little things that feel like I’m building up to something, like I’m on the edge of something and about to step into it. It’s weird, but good. Kind of like the build-up to a wave crashing on the shore but without the crash, if that makes sense. Also, snickerdoodles:

Snickerdoodle Recipe:
125g butter, softened
1/2 mug sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 2/3 mug self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 160C fan oven/180C oven/Gas Mark 4.  Grease a flat baking tray.

Mix butter and half mug of sugar together and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Add beaten egg and vanilla and beat well.

Mix in flour and the nutmeg until mixture is smooth.

Place the two tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon on a plate and mix together.

Turn cookie mixture out onto a surface and squash together.  Make into a long sausage, handling as little as possible.  Cut into 24.  Take each piece and make into a small ball.  Roll ball in the sugar and cinnamon, squash slightly and place on a baking tray.

Bake for 12 minutes or until slightly browned.

Save the cinnamon sugar in a tupperware and use for the next batch of snickerdoodles. And the next, and the next, and the next…

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