Completed all required readings, including the entire section 6 of Our Own Druidry, The Very Basics of Ritual, ADF Constitution Article 4, and The ADF Core Order of Ritual for High Days.
I also completed the recommended reading Step By Step Through a Druid Worship Ceremony, which I found absolutely fascinating. I came into ADF after the modern Core Order of Ritual was decided on, and seeing the way that Isaac designed ADF ritual initially was interesting. There were so many wiccan-style elements that were part of early ADF ritual, from the drawing of a circle on the ground (though even back then it was a permeable barrier, rather than a solid one), to the invoking of a Goddess and God of occasion (I know that some groves still do this, but my original grove was so dominated by queer people that we never used the male/female polarity in our rituals) to the use of the “energy” paradigm of offerings. It almost makes me wonder if I would have gotten involved in those early days, considering the style that they were working in still had a number of the elements that drove me away from Wicca in the first place.
My daily 10-minute meditations have continued. This week I decided to change these up. Last Sunday, I did a two-powers meditation spoken aloud since I was alone in the house. It was much easier to stay on track when I was speaking than it was the last time when I was trying to do it in my head. Speaking the words as I’m going through the visualization keeps me focused. For the rest of the week, I switched from the four-fold breath to a simple breath focus. I did start by doing the four-fold breath three times, then I just let my breathing fall into its own pattern, and tried to focus my attention on my breath itself, without counting it, just allowing it to happen and trying to keep my focus on that awareness. It is much more difficult to stay focused with this method. I dealt a lot with a roving mind but kept bringing my attention back to my breath. I did these meditations every day except for Thursday when I missed my entire Magical Morning routine.
Wednesday I again went to the Silent Meditation at the Boston Tea Room. This meditation was pretty uneventful for me. I spent some time on my mountain with Cougar, but I simply sat there with her, looking out over the valley below. I did finally find a combination of cushions that was as comfortable for my back as the first time, but I am still having trouble with my ankles feeling really stiff and sore after the meditation.
I have continued to do my daily hearth rite each morning (With the aforementioned missed Thursday). I have been trying to deliberately do it more and more from memory, with my script still next to me should I need it. It’s getting committed to memory, but parts occasionally get jumbled. I know Core Order of Ritual by heart after 10 years, it’s just the specific things that I say in offering after each invocation that I occasionally jumble a bit. I also don’t have the piacular offering quite down yet, nor the statement I make when calling for the omen. It will come with more practice.
Saturday was the Ides, and I made an additional offering to Jupiter on that morning. I was camping this weekend, and I took supplies to perform my basic hearth rite at the campsite.
This week’s homework is all about the First High Day write-up. I spent most of the week feeling intimidated at the prospect of having to write up this essay, and hitting all the important points within the word count, and building it up to be this big thing.
But as I was driving on my camping trip this weekend I was listening to the Part the Mist podcast, and I happened to include their recent episode on the dedicant Path, and they pointed out that in the wheel of the year work, I’m not necessarily writing the first draft of the essay that I will eventually submit, but rather answering the questions that will get my thoughts out on paper so that I have it for reference when I actually do write my essay. So instead I will simply provide my answers to the questions that are asked in the WoTY book.
I came into Paganism via Wicca at first, like so many of us do. The Summer Cross-Quarter was always talked about as the “first harvest” or “first fruits.” As someone who has grown up around family who were gardeners and farmers, and as someone who is a gardener myself, this never made much sense to me. I have been harvesting from the garden since about May. The entire summer season is just a continuous story of garden maintenance and harvest. So why do we consider the “First Harvest” to come in August? I don’t remember where I found the answer, but It finally gelled for me that the Summer Cross quarter is really about the Grain harvest. With the fall equinox being the grape harvest, and the Fall cross-Quarter being the meat harvest.
My hearth culture is Roman, and along with the Hellenes, we can have a difficult time fitting the traditional cultural holidays with the modern neo-pagan wheel of the year. Our grain harvest comes later in the season, nearer to the end of august, and there isn’t really a single holiday that fully captures the celebration of the harvest. But there is a series of festivals held at the end of August in intervals about two days apart, which together form a sort of week-long celebration of the harvest.
First is Consualia, which is held in honor of the god Consus, who is a god of the harvest, but more specifically of Stored Grain. As part of the Consualia, the horses and asses were given the day off from labor, decked with flowers, and paraded through the streets. There were also chariot races in the Circus Maximus.
Second is Vulcanalia, which is a sort of apotropaic festival which asks the god Vulcanus not to set the fields or storage bins ablaze with his dangerous fire. This holiday was celebrated by large bonfires being built onto the banks of the river, onto which live fish were sacrificed. After the great fire, a red bull-calf and a red boar were added to the sacrifices.
Finally is Opiconsivia, which is a celebration of Ops, a goddess of agriculture and agricultural wealth. This festival also included adorning horses and mules with flowers, as well as chariot races in the Circus Maximus.
Because Vulcanus is one of my patron dieties, I have celebrated Vulcanalia for years. But as a holiday, it just doesn’t say “harvest” to me the way that the other two do. And I also really do not want to move my celebration of Vulcanalia to the start of the month. It has always been important to me and to my relationship with Vulcanus that I celebrate the Vulcanalia as close to the proper day as possible.
I do not know of any particular harvest-oriented myths with any of these three myths, but the Consualia is significant in a version of the “creation-myth” of the city of Rome. It was during the Celebration of the Consualia that the “Rape of the Sabine Women” took place. in which the Romans used the celebration as an opportunity to kidnap women of the neighboring tribes and marry them in order to start families and begin growing the population of Rome.
I can’t say that I particularly look forward to this particular high day, other than that it means both Vulcanalia and my birthday are approaching. This isn’t a holiday that has any real secular or broader cultural counterpart, so there aren’t really any special childhood memories, or cherished traditions that I have around this high day. If it weren’t so uncomfortably hot outside during this time of year, I would be inclined to make it a holiday centered around my baking, but I generally keep the baking to the cold months. Maybe one day if I have an outdoor wood-fired oven, that might change.
I have no plans to have children, so I also have nothing that I have any desire to pass on about it.
As far as what is spiritual for me about this high day, it is mostly a day of thanksgiving. I don’t grow wheat, but I do tend to make offerings of whatever is in season in my garden. Herbs are always available, and by this time I’m in a glut of zucchini and Squash. Often I have a decent supply of Tomatoes and Cucumbers by this point as well. This is certainly a time of heavy harvest for me, and I think that’s what I connect with most. My time in my garden is something that I think of as holy, which is why I’ve been so happy this summer that I finally planted a garden again. I haven’t had a garden since I moved to Michigan nearly four years ago, just a few potted herbs, and I’ve really missed being surrounded by growing things that I tend.
I am not part of a grove, so I have no Grove traditions either. I keep my hearth with my partner, and we focus on domestic cultus. We do have a tradition of offering the first ripe item of each fruit or vegetable we grow, but that happens when the individual plant is ready, not according to a day on the calendar.