“May you never thirst,” the Priestess said, holding out the Chalice to me. “Blessed be,” I replied, taking it. The large silver cup was heavy in my hand. I raised it to my lips, and drank, tasting the cider on my tongue, and feeling the blessing enter my body. I handed the chalice back, “Blessed be,” she said back to me, and moved on to the next person in the circle.
This was a number of years ago at the festival of Mabon, the Wiccan celebration of the autumnal equinox. It was also my first time at a public Wiccan ritual. Now, years later, when I have been much more dedicated to the practice of Witchcraft, Mabon is still my favorite of the Wheel of the Year festivals.
May you never thirst.
This is a profound blessing. Our bodies need water more than they need food. Thirst is a more urgent need than just about anything but air to breathe. And of course, the plants and animals we need for food also need water. Without water, we would have no life at all. To say, “May you never thirst,” is to wish each other freedom from a parched throat. It is to wish each other life and health and happiness.
We can also see it as a wish for freedom from a parched spirit. We water our spirits through spiritual practice, through time in celebration and contemplation, through community, and through all the things that bring us joy.
May you never thirst. It is a profound blessing.
And yet. And yet I am also reminded of an Indigo Girls song. This song is written from the point of view of someone who is dying and passing on advice and blessing to those who will come after her. One line of this song says, “Fight the greed and the federals. Fight the need and the toxic spills. Drink from that wishing well, but may it never quench your thirst.”
And this line resonates with me too. May it never quench your thirst. Here in the context of work for justice, may our thirst for justice always be felt, as long as there is injustice. May it never quench your thirst. May you always feel the need of the world for your participation, and may you always respond. May it never quench your thirst.
In the world, there is always need of us. In our physical lives, we will always feel thirst again; that’s what keeps us reaching for water bottles and tea cups. Spiritually, too, we will always come back to thirst. To be perfectly satisfied always would be a static state that is impossible in our world of change and growth and transformation.
May it never quench your thirst, then, is also a profound blessing. May you continue to thirst for justice and for life. May you continue to thirst for knowledge and for connection. May you continue to know enough thirst to keep you seeking, moving, growing, learning, working, living.
May it never quench your thirst.
With the equinox approaching, we shall soon stand at the time of equal day and night, a time of perfect balance. The actual equinox only lasts a moment, as the earth travels on, brining our hemisphere into darkness. First, though, that moment of perfect balance. Darkness and light. Warmth and cold. Harvest in preparation for winter’s deprivation. A moment of balance. And a moment of paradox.
One of the things I appreciate about Pagan spirituality is its embrace of paradox. All the polarities in nature – dark and light, warmth and cold, growth and death, are honored, without one being seen as good and one evil. They are all part of the world around us, and there is blessing in all of them.
The harvest is the time of abundant food, and for us human beings, abundant life. But for the plants we harvest, it is a time of dying, as they are cut down for us to eat. At the Autumnal Equinox, Pagans honor the plants that die as the descent of the God of the harvest into the Underworld, or as the descent of the Goddess Persephone into the Underworld. The spiritual task now for those who follow this path is to go inward, too, to engage in a time of introspection.
Now at the equinox, at the time of balance, the time of paradox, the moment of in-between-ness may be the perfect time to contemplate the paradox of, “May you never thirst,” and “May your thirst never be quenched.” At this time of profound balance, perhaps we can realize that both are blessings.
May your body and your spirit always have what they need. When you are in need of refreshment, or new life, may the waters be available to you. May you never know thirst unto death, in your body or in your soul. May you never thirst.
And may your body and your spirit always thirst enough to stay alive. May you know the dissatisfaction with things as they are that leads to work for justice. May you know the thirst for new knowledge that leads to the quest for truth. May you know the desire for deeper connection that creates new and stronger relationships. May you know the spiritual thirst that keeps the soul searching, and gives the sweetness of new discovery to faithful followers of spiritual paths of all kinds.
May you never thirst too deeply, but may your thirst never be entirely quenched.