Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Harvest Season

It is harvest season. I have moved away from the notion of a single celebration at the beginning of August (though happened to be in Italy with a group of witches who held an Italian style harvest ritual: Priapus statue procession, figs, olive oil and wine and a lot of sunshine), and am taking part in a number of festivals marking harvests across the late-summer months. I did some writing about this on the Brython Blog out of interest.

Autumn Equinox is coming up in a few weeks and i am writing the ritual for our coven. The standard fare of balance between light and dark is a bit insipid to me - it isn't really something to celebrate in my mind, so have written the ritual as another harvest ritual but with more focus on the other harvests; fruits, nuts, hedgerow harvest and the like.

This is the perfect chance for me to begin working on and actually enacting the Horse Sacrifice Ritual I have had fermenting in my mind for a number of years. Back then, I had it in mind that rather than use the ritual to inaugurate a new sovereign as was done in the past, use it to affirm sovereignty has been granted at the harvest; the land is fruitful and supplying life and sustenance, so we enact the ritual not only to affirm that relationship with the gods and the land but also as a reminder of what is happening out there.

All this food, all this sustenance comes at a cost; all life springs from death. We kill and bring a small shred of entropy and chaos into being so that we transform it into life and growth. In the same way the mythic Dyeus is killed and has his very being torn to shreds to create the cosmos, we repeat that life-from-death cycle over and over. Now, I don't literally think the cosmos was formed from the body of a colossal cosmic father, but our own planet formed in the dust of the creation of our sun, and that sun coalesced from dust and debris from other stars dying and obliterating their own solar systems (and possibly life); death-life-death and onwards until our own sun goes supernova and obliterates the planet we live on. That dust will seed the galaxy and one day form new suns, new planets and new life.

By sacrificing the Horse, we ritualise this process; we are acknowledging that the land provides through its own death what it is we need to live on. The land doesn't 'die' for ever, but is itself sustained by a thousand small deaths and decompositions. 

Anyway, the ritual is almost written and as seems to happen when needed, a hymn came forward from 'I can guess where';

A Grey Mare lies in the sun,
Body heaving under his warm caress.
A single exhalation under the burning gaze.

Upon her flank a thousand wheaten shades of gold,
Upon her shoulder orchards heave with fruit,
Her brow is crowned with every blackened-red of berry 
As her thigh browns under groaning hazels.
With slow exhalation her body ripens.
The sun to catch her final breath;
As wine flows from her throat
Her tears brim with swimming silver bodies
And her flesh bears fat roots and tubers.

A White Mare rises in the twilight
Bone and skin a broken mass,
Bare browed and hollow bodied,
Holding Her breath.

1 comment:

Lorna Smithers said...

So the horse sacrifice has surfaced. Beautiful, haunting hymn. Having such a close connection with horses this has left me pondering whether I could have attended a true horse sacrifice in the days when they still took place. It's horrible enough watching horses put down. Lots to think about here. Lots to think about here and thankyou for the wonderful imagery of land as horse.