Shadow and Light

The equinox, which I name High Spring, is upon us.

To me, this is a happy time of innocence and play. A time for bright colors and candy and finally—finally—having light in the evenings and a sun warm enough to feel on my skin.

But today, I am so sad. So disturbed.

The white supremacist murder sprees at two mosques in New Zealand are simply sickening. That we have people so damaged, so filled with hatred in this world just breaks my heart.

Half light, half darkness. That’s the equinox.

And the world itself, it seems.

The extraordinary poet W.S. Merwyn died yesterday as well, after a long and productive life. In perhaps his most famous poem, “Thanks”, he reminds us of this, of the gratitude and the horror, better than ever I could.

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out

in our directions

 

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead

whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

 

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change

we go on saying thank you thank you

 

with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving

dark though it is

 

 

And so I wish you the joy of the season, with the acknowledgement that the darkness comes, as well.

We sit, balanced on the knife edge of the year, before the long fall into light.

Requiem and Invocation

Friends and Allies, let us grieve.

Let us grieve that an era of progress and forward thinking appears to be drowning in a sea of ignorance, hatred and fear.

Let us grieve that reason has been swamped by credulity, and science by superstition and willful ignorance.

Let us grieve.

Let us tear the words from the walls of our bodies, howling: we have lost so much.

The children suffer. The good green Earth bleeds. The water is sullied, the creatures die, the air itself stifles the living of the world. The people are punished for being themselves.

Our leaders are dupes and psychopaths. They hate this good world as much as they must, at some deep place, hate themselves. And they seek to destroy what they hate.

Yes, let us grieve.

Let us wail our sorrow, and weep our tears for the children so cruelly treated, the creatures who are no more, the people who will be poisoned.

For our kindred who are without shelter, warmth, clothing, food. In this, so wealthy a place.

Light a candle tonight, and weep.

Weep now, because we cannot keep the awfulness of this bottled up inside us. We must vent it out. We must empty ourselves so we can go again to the palisade, so we can again clothe ourselves with what armor we have and struggle mightily against the coming of the wrongness, of the evil.

We are threatened with triple poisons.

With overwhelm, unto paralysis.

With shock, unto paralysis.

With outrage, unto paralysis.

Let us cast these poisons out. For we are mighty.

Friends and Allies, let us wash ourselves.

Let us bathe in the warm, soft waters of the world as it should be. Of freedom, and kindness, and caring for the magnificent living Earth.

Let us be clean.

Let us be clean.

Let the cooling balm of blessed water revive us, reinform us, restore us.

Let us grieve, and wash, and be reborn.

And let our power be a force in the world. Let our voices rise to the skies. Let our votes and our word of mouth and our phone calls and our letters and our lobbying visits and our canvassing visits speak truth and kindness into the world.

May we be heard.

May we be heard.

Friends and Allies, let us see ourselves.

Let us know and love each part of ourselves. May

We bear ourselves honorably

May we celebrate joyously. May we

Know pleasure and wisdom and love

And may the better world come.

(So be it, so be it)

So we say in reverent observation

Of the Holy Universe

It is done.

(It is done, it is done, it is done,

it is done)

Summer

Though weather varies widely across the planet, of course, the traditional meaning of May Day in Europe was “the beginning of Summer”. Thus, the summer solstice was termed “Midsummer”, et cetera. Here in the U.S. the unofficial beginning of summer is a little later, with the passage of Memorial Day at the end of May.

Here in the Mediterranean climate of coastal northern California, our hills are now turning from green to gold as the grasses go to seed and turn tawny. It is the signal that summer has truly arrived, and we have days to match: 70s and low 80s, not quite hot enough yet to provoke the fog cycle which will soon draw moist air in from over the ocean and blanket us with fog during the morning, burning off to sunshine in the afternoon.

Summer is a time with many meanings, most of them pedestrian: it is vacationing time and barbecuing time and the summer break in children’s schooling. In many places, it is the season of stifling heat and or swarming insects as cold-blooded invertebrates take advantage of the heat to complete their life cycles. We’re lucky here; we have some days in the 100s, but they cool off at night, and mostly it’s a pleasant, shirtsleeve-weather kind of time.

For those who grow our food, however, it is a time of hard work. Sowing is done, but stewarding the crops until they are ready for harvest is an ongoing effort, and those raising animals must keep them adequately cooled and watered. It is no surprise that people all over the world greet the season of harvest with feasts and parties: for all the hard work of bringing in the harvests, the wealth of delicious food that results is grounds for celebration.

It bears saying, of course, that south of the equator we are approaching the darkest and coldest time of the year, as well. There, the holy Sun is missed, longed for, and its return avidly awaited. There, it is nearly Yule.

While we in our Atheopagan practices celebrate the summer season with Midsummer, for many of us summer is already here. The Season of the Sacred Sun is upon us.

Whose warm love flows across the land each day

Stirring Life, the world’s magic, arms yearning up,

Turning each green leaf to follow. Whose generous balm

Upon the skin is love’s touch, ahhhhhh heated fingers soothing,

Whose roar boils water from ocean to sky

Drawing sweet from salt, becoming rain, snow, river, lake;

Whose fervid beat upon us may be deadly, and yet

Contemplating cold stars how we miss it, the Golden One, quotidian center

Of our days, steady companion, sower of treasures great and small:

Light-bringer, Life-quickener, dazzling, unbearably bright,

Hail, oh hail the magnificent Sun!