Well, once again, a major marker in the Wheel of the Year has come and gone with no commentary by a Wizard clearly derelict in his most simple and basic duties. After all, they’re only 4 (or 8, depending on how we want to count) times per year – how hard can that be?
What can I say – at least I am consistent in my tardiness.
If the title of today’s post (and the picture above) seem familiar to those who saw yesterday’s post, it’s not mere laziness on the part of a discombobulated and unreliable wizard. The two, on the other hand, are inextricably intertwine; or, alternately, you might just say that here in my Autumn Equinox/Harvest message I seek merely to expand upon the simple summary of yesterday’s prayer. It’s here! I mean, we basically said the same thing three months ago, right? Wow, the summer solstice, we’ve been talking about it for so long, and now it’s here. Three months before that, it was like wow, how long have we been talking about springtime? And now it’s springtime! Well, ever since springtime, when we put down our seeds, both physically with our gardening tools and mentally with our focused intent and defined resolve, we’ve been talking about the eventual harvest. And now it’s here. What we have now is because of what we planted a few months ago. No more and no less.
Before I get into everything else, this time of year demands that I emphasize the following point: If we are able to look before us and see what truly what our harvest is made of, we know what we have. It is in this moment that it can be most apparent to us all the things for which we reasonably owe gratitude. It’s a huge mistake to wait until late November to ponder thankfulness. That’s not the right time for such a holiday at all (the Canadians actually have it pretty close to right, celebrating it the same weekend we celebrate a genocidal Italian in the employ of the Spanish). Look at what you have, identify what is good, recognize how you got it, and say thank you. There are few more integral necessities in the human experience than this act. Never forget to throw up a little gratitude, but especially not now.
Okay, I mean every word of that, but now that I’ve gotten it out of the way, it’s time to follow up on the regretful nature of the harvest – something I alluded to in my discussion of Lammas, the late summer festival of the harvest’s beginnings. For it is now that we are also uncomfortably confronted with the vast discrepancy between what we expected to get when we planted things and what we actually see in front of us now. It’s not an ungrateful sort of inevitability, it’s just the honest truth. Just as we absolutely must recognize the life that we have, and the life-affirming fruits we’ve cultivated or been given, we are forced to gaze at some pretty confusing fruit – not to mention the dead roots and vines that never made it through the summer.
By the time I’m old enough to have the long white beard every wizard is destined to wear, I hope to be among the sages, the ones who can see clearly at the time of the planting what will grow, both the good and the bad, the healthy and the diseased. I hope to have that understanding. For now, despite my title, I’m just a late-twentysomething fellow who’s vaguely aware of what is going on but still mostly staggering in around in the dark. For all of us who are neither sage nor shaman (yet), we can talk all we want of the responsibility inherent in the knowledge that we reap what we sow, but we usually don’t really have half as much of an idea of what we’re sowing than we would need in order to have much control over that responsibility. We think we’re planting one thing and we get another. We plant something and we get what we planted, but it’s not what we thought it would be.
And that’s okay – that’s just part of it.
I originally posted the above photo in one of my late spring/early summer posts about planting (naturally), using the garden I planted with my habibti as an example and reminder of the importance of planting. What’s not readily apparent, however, is that in using them in both yesterday and today’s post, I’m making an altogether different point. You see, this garden wasn’t at our apartment. It was at our office. The garden was planted on company property in a company-provided employee gardening area. This is very nice of the company to do – in fact, it’s one of my favorite things that they do.
What I didn’t expect when planting these seedlings is to get fired in mid-July. That led pretty quickly to the abandonment of that garden. The plants withered and were torn apart by unchecked bugs. The fruit that grew, for the most part, rotted in place. So here we have the image of a ruined crop, both literally and symbolically. After all, in the beginning of the year, the seeds I planted were partially in the soil of that job, and I was banished from that land, with the soil plowed over and the seeds lost to me, lost to time.
I’ve been pretty clear in the past that I don’t miss that job or wish I still had it. At the same time, might not the harvest of my autumn be more bountiful? Might I have been able to grow more and build more and engage in more positive developments were I not in the midst of the troubles of job loss? In the midst of all that, I also had to move from an apartment in which I’d hoped to stay at least another year. Again, at the time of the planting, I chose my seeds based on the soil of that living area, and now that living area is gone.
I’ve much to be grateful for, but that’s a decent amount of dead fruit. Then, in front of me, there’s some fruit that lived, and it’s what I planted, I just wasn’t prepared for the results. They’re intertwined, of course. I planted seeds of intention towards a greater focus on expression and exploration, planted seeds of new beginnings and new aeons, planted seeds of freedom and release.
That’s what I got. All of those things. This year, despite all its awful difficulties – and there have been, for me, much more than in the average year – has involved more exploration and expression than any in recent memory. I got my new beginning and am in the midst of the earliest stages of my new aeon. I was released into freedom from so much that bound and oppressed. I didn’t know when I planted these things that it involved losing my job and all my money. I didn’t know I’d have to move. But now that it’s come to pass, and even as it’s still impossibly hard on some days, it’s amazing. It’s amazing what the journey of a year can get you if you walk it with a little bit of an extra spring in your step.
Looked at from this angle, most of the “bad” things suddenly have value, and we can see clearly that the harvest is not unpleasant nor imbued with unbridled joy. It is difficult, in its own way, for even as we let gratitude wash over us like one of summer’s long-lost waves, the fading light is yet bright enough to shed its rays of clarity on an uncensored reality that is often very difficult to look at. Even for the best of us.
The closing message to take away, therefore, becomes obvious: looking around at what comprises our harvest, what are we now to do with it?
Though I have yet to engage in any sort of fanfare, the Wizard of Monadnock passed its one-year mark last month. Since an important (if rare, and yes often belated) part of what we’ve set out to do since the beginning is to explore the passage of the year, this also means that we’ve gone all the way around that Wheel together. Yes, we’ve “come full circle.”
There’s more to be said about the harvest and its lessons, and since we can now see at least a glimpse of our wheel as a whole, it’s time to question – if only casually – the relation of the annual solar cycle to the bizarre and hard to grasp cycles of our own lives.
We’ll pick up where we left off next week. Until then, have a good weekend and Salaam.