John Barleycorn & other songs of Late Summer

sharelate summertime

The ancient cross-quarter harvest feast of the season, Lammas or Lughnassa, corresponds to Late Summer, (one of five that Chinese medicine recognizes*).  The frenzy of early summer has to ripened and paused, the grain harvest has begun, and the first signs of autumn are upon us. Birds gather on a wire, cricket voices are a deeper chorus. We gorge on tomatoes and sweet corn, complain about too many zucchini. I feel a deep, rich melancholy sweetness this time of year, and it’s affecting the music I want to hear.


Play Lynn Hollyfield’Late Summertime from her first album Layers, available HERE

ripegrass copycorn & grain rise & fall

As a Wiccan descended from Czech peasants the deep and ancient pull of the turning earth still calls my blood.  Can you feel it? There’s a ripeness and a waiting, and a strange sadness that accompanies the harvest wealth. There’s an ancient poem about this, handed down to us by Robert Burns, recorded as a song in 1970:


Play Traffic’s John Barleycorn Must Die

It’s remarkable how in the poem we identify with the barley plant: his green youth, golden maturity and painful demise (and creative revenge!) These days busy humans seldom pause and consider the life of the other beings around them, particularly if they are plants!

bittersweet august

In my younger life the calendar was driven by the school year. August was a season of intense and conflicting emotion: time to grieve summer’s delirious freedom, the looming loss of my summer love. At the same time I was alive with anticipation, and dread, for the coming school year. There were summer songs that so captured this:


Play Jefferson Airplane’s Embryonic Journey

Summer loves no longer come and go as they once did, but the turning time still brings that thrill of change to come. Such an ancient thing, riding the cycle around again, grieving for the innocent joy of sweet spring, giving thanks for the bounty we feast on, and trepidation for the harsh winter to come.


Play The Moody Blue’s Eternity Road

I’d love to hear your stories of this season, the joyous, the bittersweet, the wheel of time milling us like grain. (Please comment, email or link to your reply. Sharing is love.)

*Earth: the in-between transitional seasonal periods, or a separate ‘season’ known as Late Summer or Long Summer – in the latter case associated with leveling, dampening (moderation) and fruition. from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Xing

Watching the Moon

cc 2008 by iceberg273 on Flickr

Friday night the sky was clearing as the post-Christmas heavy weather lifted. I watched the full moon rise through a veil of hazy snow. Our luminous satellite, la belle Lune, marks time for our world, counts out the days, turning the tides and illuminating our nights.

Full Moon marks an apex, a peak expansion, and a pause before contraction begins. Like the recent Solstice (literally ‘sun stands still’) there is an implied coming to rest. It is a good time for contemplation, meditation and prayer.

It’s traditional: a great deal of reflection and recounting the old year is swirling around us now, and of course it’s good to review and reflect. Then it’s time to put away that which doesn’t serve us going forward. This year we make our year-end lists and New Years vows under the light of the waning moon, gently moving forward into the dreaming dark.

Why not bundle up the disappointments and regrets of the year passed and release them into the night sky? And as you make those vows to-be-do have more in 2013, wrap them in lunar light and set them aloft as well. Make room in your heart for the tide of change to move freely.

From now until New Moon 1/11/2013 is the time to complete and clear away whatever is not needed for the fresh plantings of the New Year. Let the Moon lead you into the New Year, luminous with possibility. Feel the divine support inherent in the flow of time, as marked by the light of the Moon.

Footprints

For a Michigander, summer seems to last forever in the Southern Maryland. Of course, I’ve been preoccupied with the Big Move, but today, a fortnight past Equinox and I’m marveling: suddenly the forest has been glazed with transparent  yellow. Leaves are floating to earth on the steady breeze off the river like a shower of golden coins.

new abode

My new abode is in the same neighborhood, but a world away. As someone who craves wilderness and loves the river I’m in heaven. From my former home I could walk to the bank, library and grocery, and often heard the highway sounds, despite my wooded setting. Now, I hear only the wind (boats and planes too, occasionally).

My former house was a grand home, a generously proportioned and welcoming space. I adored it and enjoyed it to the hilt. As a single woman I managed to create a family home: a place of gathering, shelter and community. I built the most wonderful art workspace I’ve ever had, and I shared my hearth with many beloved friends and fascinating strangers. The house earned many names: Clearwell, School of Witchcraft & Artistry, Home for Wayward Girls, Pet Cemetery and finally, the name that stuck: The Holy Unpredictable Manor.

Alas, in recent years the Holy Unpredictable Manor came to be more of burden than I wanted to carry. More time, more money were needed to keep up the property, and I was changing, moving toward  something new, where my efforts and direction were not based so much in the material world. I see it in my creative life as well. Having just purged and relocated my studio, joyfully selling and giving art to many people and places, I’m struck by the physical load of my painters life.

Writing is occupying more of my attention, as is digital art, and these are so much more portable than the crates of supplies and stacks of canvases I just relocated.

new outdoor studio

I’m not abandoning my painting. My love of that 15th century technology goes on, there are landscapes I long to dwell in on canvas. And I have students now, a new generation curious about the Old Ways. But I see a bigger picture, and a smaller footprint, for my life going forward.