Part of my on-going and sporadic participation in the Pagan Blog Project.
I’m writing this on what is, approximately, the first full moon after Summer Solstice.
I could just as easily say that I’m writing this one day – give or take three hours – after having been kept awake all night by Canada Day drunks arguing loudly, for hours, in the street below my apartment.
But I’ve decided to pay attention to the moon – which is coming up like a great, white-gold pearl, in a deep blue sky still tinged with the pinks and purples of the sunset because… why?
Because it’s prettier.
Because it’s elegant and beautiful and a much lovelier and more pleasant way to remember the timing than by noting just how much shouted cussing was going on below my window at the same time.
But I’m also doing it because, while the phase of the moon may or may not be relevant to how I (as a white, urban, Anglophone member of a Western culture in 2012) measure time… I want it to be. I want to be able to look back at this entry and see:
First full moon after Summer Solstice
Service berries and mulberries are so ripe they’re falling off the trees
Bass season just, just started
Sour cherries will be ready to be picked by the time this moon (honey moon, strawberry moon) has waned back down to darkness
…And be able to put those visceral, physical things, those specific-to-my-location situations, together and come up with “Early July”, without having to leave a precise date at the top of the page.
I remember talking to a friend – who was also one of my professors – about ten years ago. She said that, when she converted to Wicca, she was handed this entirely new calendar system. So, while her friends were recalling that such-and-such an event happened around mid-terms, she was marking it as happening around Samhain.
I’m trying to take that a step further.
I want to be aware of the physical, local realities that mark the passage of time in my specific bioregion. I know that they won’t be the same every year. That the first full moon after Summer Solstice 2013 will be much earlier than this year’s – practically on top of the Solstice and, thus, 2013’s service berries and mulberries will be coming in when Fruit Moon is just starting to wax, while the cherries will be ripe during the same moon’s fullness. That next year “honey/strawberry moon” may be called “rhubarb moon” – or “leaf moon” – because it will begin earlier in the season. That we may have a “Berry moon” that is separate from “Fruit Moon”, that the amount of rain we get will affect the naming of the mo(o)nths.
I’m trying to teach myself, to integrate into my daily life, a living, spiraling calendar, one that doesn’t march ever-forward, leaving the past behind, but that cycles through spiral time in a way that lets me (or requires me to) see how this year is related to last year, will be related to next year.
To live in the cycle.
But also to live in the moment.
You know the story about the Grasshopper and the Ant? (Clearly written by someone who didn’t have a clue about grasshopper OR ant life-spans) Well, when it comes to gardening, I’m a bit like the ant in that story. I tend to be living two or three months down to road, to when there won’t be an abundant source of produce available… which leads me to canning everything in sight rather than also enjoying what’s available, fresh, right now.
Working to integrate a living calendar – one in which “now” is related intimately to the same period last year and next year, but in which the specific details are in flux (What is the phase of the moon? How much rain have we been having? Did it stay cold for longer, or did it warm up earlier, than last year and how is this affecting the fruit trees and the wild greens?) – forces me to pay attention to the moment, to what’s going on now, even as it lets me connect now with last year’s crop of city-land service berries, with the tail end of last year’s Rhubarb Moon and the beginning of its Small Fruit or Berry Moon.
It’s the connection with this year’s now that lets me relate it to last year at the same time in the same place, and to plan for what I’ll need to look for, harvest, put up, fish for, and so on next year.
I’m re-reading Earth Path at the moment and I have to agree with Starhawk when she says that “we can’t simply honour nature’s cycles in the abstract” and, instead, must know those cycles intimately and to recognize how we are part of them.
By tending my garden, taking note of what’s available along neighbourhood road-sides and in local water-ways and harvesting it, and watching my own body for what it needs during this time (change my habits, drink more water, keep to the shade, wear sun-block, rather than flipping the (non-existent) A/C up another notch and ignoring the effects that seasonal weather would otherwise have on my body)… These are all ways to remind myself that I am part of nature, eating berries like the grackles, starlings, squirrels, and bears; catching fish (or trying) like the herons, loons, raccoons, and bears; helping to pollinate my cucumbers and tomatoes like the bees, hover flies, male mosquitoes, and braconid wasps; keeping to the shade and panting in the heat like, well, very nearly everybody from crows to cats to my neighbour down the hall.
Living in the moment. Living in the cycle. Learning the seasons of my Place one moon phase, one harvest, one fruit tree at a time.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 Grasshoppers top out at about seven weeks, while ants live only a few days – or so I gather – but ants live in city/hive structures and need to make sure the colony continues after they’re gone. Y’know. In case you were wondering…
 Along with Judy Harrow’s Spiritual Mentoring – which is a guide for Pagan types who have been around for a while and may be getting approached by people for guidance, teaching, and the like.