Actually, the title here is a little bit misleading. If I were truly a good professional wizard, I would have warned you at least two weeks ago that August 1 was Lammas, one of the eight holiest days of the solar calendar. In fact, I would have devised an entire scheme of celebration and ritual like I managed to do for the solstice back in June. Oh, well. There’s always next year. I hope you’ll forgive me – it is, after all, still my first year at this (albeit at the end of it), and I seem to have consistently had difficulty with the “cross-quarter days like this one.” After all, in a lot of ways, doesn’t it seem like the solstice was like ten minutes ago?
Unfortunately, it wasn’t. It was almost two full months ago at this point, and we’ve got little more than a month before the autumnal equinox. The virtue (and, perhaps, the difficulty) of this method of marking the calendar is that eight major holidays doesn’t sound like a lot until you realize that they fall every six weeks. That’s an awful lot of very regular celebration – and reading those words on the screen, even if it does sound like a lot, how do you advocate against regular celebration? After all, one of my primary theses, not merely as a wizard but as a citizen, is that we don’t celebrate nearly enough. We don’t deliberately make merriment often enough. We don’t take stock of our loved ones, much less our progress in the all-important solar cycle, nearly as frequently as we should. Given my strongly-held positions on the subject, why should I have such a difficult time fulfilling one of my most basic responsibilities in this job?
Part of it could be that I secretly don’t like Lammas.
Confession time: I have a long history of disliking holidays. There’s nothing complicated about it. I loved all holidays when I was a kid and everything was magical. Holidays were great. Then I was in high school, feeling like certain facts came to light, and I started hating them. Truth is, when I was in high school, my life was a constant battle against hating everybody, so why would I like special occasions forcing me to spend time with any other people? And I don’t think there is anything wrong with a mindset like that in high school, but you’ve got to grow out of it – and I did. When I was in college, I hated holidays because they “disrupted my flow.” This meant that holidays had become the only day in the year when I couldn’t hang out with my friends to drink and smoke, and I saw no good reason to interrupt that sort of routine. For me, as a dropout, my “college” time can be considered to have lasted well into my “grown-up” employment, and, again, this was not an inappropriate way to think during that stage of my life. But I had to grow out of it, and I did. From my perspective, certain facts came to light, and holidays essentially became magical again. Full circle. Like magic sand blowing into the wind over and over again.
So what’s my problem with Lammas, then? The honest truth is that it’s nothing more than my own personal imperfections. You see, this is the first harvest festival of the year. Sounds great, right? We’re harvesting things! The stuff that we planted earlier in the year and kept living through our labor and our sweat, maybe even blood, has grown to the point where we can start picking it and eating it. That’s great!
At the same time, I tend to have a hard time with a wide array of things ranging from keeping a steady pace to setting realistic goals to keeping a basic focus, and Lammas is really when the rubber starts to meet the road. The whole year, up until now, everything has been potential. Everything we have done has been done with designs on a finished product (or fruit) to be produced down the line. There’s a certain comfort in that. It’s demanding, to be sure, and there’s pressure involved, but we don’t have to actually confront the manifested reality that we are trying to produce – until now. Inevitably, I am a little bit disappointed with what I see. Part of it likely is also related to the heat-forged super-ADD I seem to get every year post-solstice. Most of my envisioning and planning and actual work takes place during the first half of the year. In the summer, I am generally only able to perform basic maintenance on what I’ve already done, like the most minimal amount of weeding required in a garden. It’s enough that I never (almost never) wind up empty-handed in August, but there’s always that yearning to have done more coupled with the knowledge that we’re a long ways off from the time to plant new seeds. Now is the time when we look at what we have and are, to put it bluntly, stuck with it. It can be a brutal crash down into reality.
Some years, however, are worse than others. It is unlikely but possible that some of you may have noticed that, starting in mid-July, I went nearly three weeks without a single post, and that even my posting since then has been somewhat sporadic. Now I will tell you why: I was unexpectedly fired from my job.
Here, I am using the term “unexpectedly” very loosely. The truth is that I’ve expected it for years. It was inevitable, I’ve always know it, and I always did everything I could to prepare for it. In the end, I found myself quite surprised by both the timing and the reason. Neither were what I had always imagined. In the end, it matters little. The moment I spent so many years imagining in my mind has come and gone.
Let’s be clear about a few things. Leaving that job was a necessity. My future and my destiny absolutely depends – and has always depended – upon me leaving that job. Truth is, I’m not sure I ever would have had the strength to leave it on my own. In a sense, they did me a favor. Now I know for sure what I have suspected for quite some time – the next stage of my life and, most likely, my role as a wizard, is not just coming, it’s here.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I have a great deal of obligations, and obligations mean that I need money, which means that I am not just free to NOT get another job. Another job I will have to find – and if any of you dear readers have any suggestions on this front, I am open to anything. Please feel free to contact me. But I know this – my next job will not be as all-consuming as my last one, which was the all-consuming center of my life for almost nine years. Everything centered around that place, and that was worthwhile in certain ways for most of that period of time. At the same time, I now know not to do it again. The time for that sort of thing is over. The time for something new is here.
So while I feel obliged to apologize for what seems like a long stretch of rambling in this post, the point here is this: while part of me feels as though the harvest for this year is ruined due to the disastrous events of this ill-fated summer, the wiser part of me knows how wrong that notion is. This is the harvest for this year. The harvest is not merely loss, but the gain of a new world only beginning to form before me. In the months ahead, that world will continue to form as I reap the harvest we started together earlier this year. Lammas can sometimes be uncomfortable, especially for something that’s supposed to be a celebration, but there’s a lot of wisdom to be gained from it.
The Perseid Meteor Shower, best shower of the entire year, has nearly come to a close, but it should still be easy for you to see plenty of meteors in the sky for the rest of this week, especially if you can stay up past midnight. I encourage it, for despite my distaste for Lammas, the meteor shower is paradoxically one of my favorite times of the year. Space rocks on fire are cool – plain and simple. In fact, there is something truly magic about mid- to late-August – isn’t there?
So I failed to give you any rituals or prescriptions, but go out there and take a few minutes to think about the year so far, and think about the results that are starting to show up. Good, bad, whatever. Just think about them. And start getting ready for the magic to come.