Summer New (Lughnasa) Moon
At first, as I dug my way into a new faith, it was about a symphony: the early crocus, snowdrops, grape hyacinths followed by tulips, then iris and hosta and bleeding hearts, giving way in July to a the bold notes of the asiatic lilies until the daylilies and clematis, both bushy and climbing, the liguria and the snakeroot began to dominate followed by the soft crescendo of asters and chrysanthemums. This literal rising and falling, in palates of color always framed by many shades of green, played out in my mind, a curious analog to the mental images inspired by listening to Mozart or Haydn or Pachibel.
Then, with Kate’s guidance vegetables came to have more and more importance. They too come in their own season, following their own melodic lines, as do the fruits and the nuts. Even, I would later learn, so did honey and the concerto of the honey bee.
Amending the soil with compost and peat moss and decayed leaves and hay, finding the heirloom seeds for the vegetables we grow and the beautiful varieties of perennials like the iris and the lily, made the whole a process laced with memory and filled with change.
It is no surprise that the Great Wheel, the ancient calendar of a people whose blood runs in my veins, came into this earthy process as a celebration, as a sacred abstraction of a very real lived experience. This was not systematic theology. This was neither dogma nor holy book. No, this was and is the song of the earth herself, composed in her own medium, the plants whom her body supplies with nutrients and her body which receives their dead bodies to replenish herself.
So this is a material spirituality, a spirituality that lives in the praxis between human awareness and the earth’s ordinary wonders, a paradoxical sacredness created by the essential, the necessary bond between the human body and the plant body and the earth’s body. It may be, probably is, that paradox exists here only when seen against the various gnosticisms of the world’s many religions. In fact, a faith rethought and reimagined without religion entering into the mix needs no spirituality other than that mysterious, miraculous link that binds the entire web of life into one interdependent whole.