While I had a blog about a year before coming to WordPress (A Witchy Thought), “Harvesting Me” was the first post eva here by yor’ Southern Fried Witch. As busy as I have become, I made an executive decision today to repost this blog in honor of my upcoming year anniversary. I’ve promised more recipes from ‘Bama–on their way this Sunday afternoon’s post–and the book is full swing. I plan on pissing off the world with Boondock Witch and its companion recipe book, Boondock Cookin’ . . . so there are tenuous calls to lawyers (protect thy ass, law one) and my editor (thanks, Cam!) and funds to raise for its production (expect that post to follow) and about two more chapters to pull out of the red clay. Somewhere in all of this, we are launching the website for Grass Roots Church (bylaws suck peanut butter through straws, y’all) and are looking forward to a new initiate ceremony, an impending adoption and the final run towards two graduations. (And a big secret about SFW . . . it involves personal witchy growth and my favorite goddess. Right now, I want this secret all to myself. Let y’all know when its done.)
Tomorrow over twenty souls are showing up for Mabon dinner, Sunday is Pagan Pride Day here in Auburn, Alabama and the Fall garden is in full developmental swing–and somewhere in between I need to worship in the grass in bare feet. And so, here you have it. My first fried post in 2011:
After a long, droughted summer, I awoke this morning to the strangest cool. It was the sort that comes after rain, arid and grassy, yet something wafted there in the tops of the pines, something old and crisp that nodded to an end to a season.
Strange, isn’t it, that my first thought is not of Mabon—right around the corner, with its menu carefully crafted and its candles already bought. No. This morning, I crunched a leaf underfoot while examining my budding fall garden of purple cauliflower and turnip sprouts and a thought passed over my lips like a breath: Samhain. The utter peace that the word entails speaks of hearth, home, family, and fellowship in a visceral way for me as I begin my croning—a stage in my life that, until now, I had resisted with a vengeance. But now . . .
Here I am. A late summer, a forty-something Celtic/Cherokee craftswoman just beginning my teaching of four audacious souls whose unadulterated and green joy is inspired by a craft that saved my soul when I was small. I found myself leading them through a discussion late last night on the eminence of summer harvest, both literal and figurative, and delighted in the juxtaposition of things like late August tomatoes and the birthing of magical names, the last run of banana peppers and the carving of ancestral identities, and all the analogies of the synthesis that occurs between the harvest of a garden and a spirit. All had been initiated in my backyard, somewhere between the thyme pots and the pumpkin vines, only months before. All were alive with hunger and that mythic mesh of innocence and an old wisdom deep within their past. All have taught me something of Samhain, my favorite holiday (shocking, right?) and myself. I saw them. And I saw my first harvest.
The teacher became the student, in one brief moment between a question posed by the latest initiate and a sip of dark, red wine. So, it is an end, but it holds beginning within it?
I had resisted my Croning because I had fathomed it as an end, contrary to all of my education and experience. I suppose I feared this stage of my life to be a dying thing, a face that called out for the equivalent of witch’s Botox (the irony of botulism does not escape me here), and it smacked of my arch nemesis: Ego. That nasty, lying little beast that impedes any student learning (but why can’t I know the great mysteries now? I’m talented at this) as well as any craftswoman’s progress (I have learned to manipulate, therefore I have power) and there that little bugger stood, wagging its finger at my waning beauty, my atrophying muscle tissue, and calling it all valuable. To use a very witchy phrase: what a load of crap.
And so, here I am. Facing Samhain for the first year as a beginning crone. Other stages pass away there on that fateful holiday, falling into the earth like so many crunchy oak leaves, but here remains the crux: here I AM. Seeding into Samhain earth, cold and clean, my own harvest. I am a teacher, passing down knowledge with ever so much concern and care and craft. I am a crone, learning and turning and kneeling and beginning.
I taught a lesson recently on the forgiving nature of the two major harvests, Mabon and Samhain. My students seemed to be under the impression that Mabon had a certain finality to it as they lamented wistful gardens that had caved under the pressures of drought, or a diligence unto which they had aspired in their journaling, or an adeptness of learning that they felt had not been seen to its full fruition. There was a sense of melancholy in their Mabon predictions of half-finished projects and wilted herbs. I was reminded of a critical mistake I had made by mislabeling pumpkins for watermelons, leading to a too-early ripeness of the former in May. That day, angry with myself, I pulled every rotten vine, piled them up for future crafts and stood there . . . until it hit me. Plant again. It’s never over.
There is yet another Harvest.
With Samhain looming nigh, those pumpkins are relishing the crisp air today, waving their green flags in a victorious, if not a bit belligerent, glee. And the circle spins on, winding down from summer’s heat toward Samhain with no fear, no second thought, as if it knows something we forget daily.
We begin again. As teachers, as students, as gardeners, as mothers. As children, no matter what the civilized, controlled world tells us.
We begin again.
Happy Mabon, Y’all!