Sunday, July 31, 2016

On Lughnasadh

Today I found the feather of a wild turkey.

Broken-stemmed—as if after falling to the ground, it had been chewed. Maybe by the orange-eyed black cat that prowls our yard after darkness falls, sending Stazi and Juni intently scurrying from window to window to exchange stares with the interloper.

What does a broken feather mean today, on the eve of the festival of Lugh, sun god?

I'm not one for signs and portents. But we curate our own lives, don't we? Especially for blog posts. We choose what is meaningful and why.

On the one hand, there is a quite sensible reason for a wild turkey feather to be in my back yard...which is that a whole flock of them paid us a visit on Thursday. Two hens and fifteen young wild turklings.

They perched atop the fence, the garage and up in the tree outside our window like an invading force. First: scoping out the yard for food and/or threats. Then: they judged it safe and one by one, fluttered down to peck at the fallen seed under the bird feeder.

After they'd eaten what was there, they wandered off to another yard, on a progressive dinner party.

Lughnasadh is a first fruits harvest festival, a time to partake of the bounty.

A banquet of milkweed and blazingstar for the monarchs.

A feast of nectar for bees and hummingbirds.

A feast of wild and winsome beauty for our eyes.

Seasons and holy days should be felt in their time, don't you think? The exact time is important. Their beats fall regularly throughout the year, marking a particular angle in the sun's journey across the sky, a quality of light falling upon the beloved earth; marking the cycle of growth and decline of mortal creatures of every kind. Anchoring us to this place, this time, singing nownownow every moment.

Centuries, millennia of humans marked the journey of sun and moon, marked them with fire and festival, ritual and thanks.

Sometimes I wish I lived among those peoples, in those times, if only for that. For a celebration with a center to it, one that makes sense to people who love the earth and the sky, sun moon stars.

No leaping over fires on hilltops, I'll shape my own kind of broken-feathered observance, based on what speaks to me.

As I write, I wonder, as I usually do: does this all sound self-indulgent? I understand if you think it does, because on some level I do, too. Compared with many people in this world, I am privileged, and have no real reason to complain of anything.

Is it a luxury to be able to feel emptiness, sadness or loneliness rather than hunger? Is it a luxury to long for a sense of belonging to this earth, when so many have no place to sleep, no safety, no kindness, no justice?

Yes. But maybe it's not an either/or, maybe we are less separate than we think. Maybe that's why many of us feel so lost. Maybe that is why we search and search for something with even a chance of healing what is being broken—and when we find it, we need to recognize and take hold of it.

There is so much in this society and the world that is destructive and cruel and callous, and it is nearly all human. We are the ugliest thing on earth, I think. So much of that is on display right now. It is so stark, so frightening, it demands our attention...and maybe we feel it is shallow or indulgent or selfish to care so much about what is beautiful.

But what if beauty is necessary, too? In spite of everything, we need to love what we love, or what is the point? This world's beauty is breathtaking still, the things that pass unnoticed under our eyes, the gifts of even one single day: the silent rising of the sun. The dawn chorus. The blue hours of a summer afternoon. The cool scent of a lake at dusk, magicked by the small singing of frogs and crickets. The bright stars we can barely see anymore, always above us, and a thousand thousand other wonders right here, every day.

If we could only see them. Honor them. With a holy day.

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