We have moved into the end of the summer season. Here in New York’s Hudson Valley, the rope grass is overgrown, the summer flowers fading on the bloom. My tomatoes and pumpkins have ripened and I am taking stock for the harvest season. What should I give thanks for? What can I let go of? What should I seed for next season? What can I allow to go fallow? I think on each of these questions both literally and figuratively. The sun is still bright now at midday, but it sets early and the evenings grow long shadows. I find myself looking forward to cooler days and the great exhale of Mother Earth that we call Autumn which shakes the leaves loose and brings in our long dark winters.
I have already had a big harvest this year with the publication and positive reception for my book Relighting the Cauldron, which was years in the making. I also completed my graduate studies and have received a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health, which enables me to work in the healing professions, trying to make a difference in our nation’s mental health crisis, a crisis certainly caused by so many people unable to navigate our increasingly dysfunctional society.
This month I was able to attend my third Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, where over 7000 people gathered for the theme of “Call to Conscience.” Topics centered on sharing ideas, and focusing on ways that people from all the world’s spiritual traditions could come together to brainstorm, network and be inspired to make a difference and be the change we wish to see in the world. I’m happy to say that Pagans, Indigenous people and other Earth-based spiritual systems were well represented and the theme of saving our planet was one of the most fervent topics. Change. It’s definitely on my mind. Personally, I am going through the change and have come into my Wise Woman years. The wise woman years are the ones our Patriarchal system fears the most and has tried to control with the most brutal methods. For hundreds of years in Europe, old women who weren’t attached to a man were feared and many met their fate at the end of a rope, tortured, drowned in a river or burned at the stake, simply for “knowing things.” And while some things change, some still stay the same. When you think about those times, the word “faggot” comes to mind and had multiple meanings, including an old person who gathers sticks, or a gay person. There is also the fact that gays were often the ones used to warm the fires for the witch to be publicly burned. Think on that today as we see the rabid fascists around the world, but especially right here in the United States, fuel the flames of hate as they actively target and dehumanize trans people and everyone in the LGBTQAI+ community. That thinking always leads to genocide. These are scary times.
One major thing I am realizing is, however, is there are things I can change, and things I cannot change. The words of the Serenity Prayer are a mantra to me now, “God and Goddess, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” When it comes to human rights such as the right to love who you wish and express yourself how you feel, I think it’s important to know where you live and live where people vote like you do, and people marginalized people can feel safe. Sadly, there are some parts of this country that are only getting worse and many need to leave those places. Failed states create conditions for flight. By finding and supporting local community, local government, and local economies, we can create islands of safe harbor for ourselves and for our children and children’s children.
I realize I am not going to change this or the way this entire end-stage capitalist paradigm ends. We can no longer stop global climate change, for instance. The right is still screeching it is all a “librul” hoax, just like COVID19 is, we need more oil and gas; yet each succeeding summer is hotter than before and every day for most of the last four months in the South was well over 100 degrees. What will happen is many areas in the South will soon be unlivable. The deserts will return to desert and the swamps will grow in size.. In the North the river valleys will return to the river, the coast lines will return to the sea, and Mother Earth will heal herself. Many people are going to die from climate change. Many more will be uprooted and become climate refugees. These things are already happening in other parts of the world where superstorms are flooding coastal areas and metropolises. Related to this is the fact that there are many humans who only learn when they themselves go through pain, and She will continue to dish out pain. I am not going to change their mind about climate change, the Earth will do that for them. When it comes to creating fascist states, we just need to continue to watch Florida, where neo-Nazis now freely march. Yet, their economy has grown to a halt since the governor has been passing bills against immigrants, black Americans, teachers, LGBTQAI people, and his economic policies have led to insurance companies basically un-insuring millions of homeowners. People who can move are moving; with the disenfranchised and targeted leaving Florida, taking their business and actual conservatives moving in. People are basically self-sorting which probably means we will no longer be a united country in time. I say let them have it. In a short time, with doctors, educators, businesses, and others all leaving Florida, it will become a third world country, and that’s what their voters seem to wat.I feel sad for those too poor to leave but how ironic it is that the Southern States, so obsessive about a border, will ion time create the conditions where people want to flee them?
But thinking globally, I feel sad about all the animals, and the habitats that are being destroyed. To me they are the innocents. I would extend that to victims of colonialism, the poor, and the indigenous and pastoral people, still living the way their ancestors lived without leaving a toxic carbon footprint on the planet like we do. Perhaps, these are the meek who will inherit the Earth. That leads me, however, to my final harvest. The one surprise that wasn’t up to me, that’s coming, and the reason why I must continue to try to be part of laying the groundwork for a new paradigm that recognizes the sanctity of the planet, of which the essential foundation must be knowledge of our complete interdependence with the Earth and all sentient beings, is my coming grandchild. My daughter is about to give birth to my first grandson. He will be a young man with heritage that includes African, European, Latino and Indigenous, I already feel fiercely protective of him. It has me feeling very different than I did even a few years ago about a lot of things and their importance in my life. No longer important are things like worrying about being conventionally thin or beautiful, when being wise and healthy is so much more important. Being kind, standing up for one’s values and principles, being a good human, believing in magick and possibility, and loving yourself, these are all things I wish to teach him and any other grandchildren I am fortunate to have in my life..
So, I leave you with to contemplate your own incoming harvest season. What can you let go of that no longer serves you? What can you embrace and increase? What helps you to believe in magick? Blessed Mabon to All! Rev. Wendy Van Allen is a spiritual counselor, clinical counselor in the State of New York, a Spiritist and Priestess of Wicca and Lukumi. She teaches and writes on Nature Spirituality. If you are interested in joining a monthly online Wicca circle or receiving personal counseling, please write to: email@example.com.