It’s Mabon, known by many as the fall equinox. For us Pagans, it is not just the changing of the seasons; the trees shed their leaves after transforming from the beautiful greens we saw all summer long to vibrant colorful reds, oranges, yellows, and gold. Second harvest is also a time to reflect and to give thanks for the great bounty we received. It is time to acknowledge all that we are grateful for this year.
In ancient times, our ancestors were thankful for any harvest they reaped. If they had a poor crop though they reflected on that and considered what changes to have a successful harvest next year. For us though, while many of us do have gardens, maybe even farms, we are not too worried. Grocery stores will sustain us through the coming winter. Therefore, while I agree we should be thankful for our bountiful crops, it can be so much more.
Throughout this year’s turning of the wheel, I took my CUUPs chapter UUCM Sacred Wheel through stages. At Imbolc, I asked them to plant their metaphoric “seeds” and physical ones, if they were able to, into the ground. I asked them to think about what they wanted to grow– within and outwards and to plant that intent into the ground with words on paper. Then at Litha, I asked them to assess what they planted, to reflect and make the changes to help make it come to fruition.
During our Mabon ritual, I asked the participants to think about what they were thankful for this year. I asked them to reflect on what intentions they planted and to give thanks for what they have received. This year and last, with the pandemic being relentless, it is sometimes hard to think about what one is grateful for, or recognize all that one has accomplished.
To my pleasant surprise, participants were sharing a lot. When I wrote the working for the ritual, I was just thinking of completing the theme I started with at Imbolc. I did not realize how important this part would be for any of us. The sharing went on for quite some time. There were no interruptions; however, one person’s gratitude would lead to another person’s and so on. I let it continue past the planned time I gave because it was beneficial. In the crazy world we live in, we tend to forget these things.
Intentions I planted this year are beginning to bear fruit. For one, I have been working for years on resolving issues from my childhood. More so this year than in the past, I have grown a lot. I am taking on tasks that I had little knowledge on with ease. In addition, I am working on a fear I had for all my life. Not only did I pet a dog recently, but also I allowed one to rest his head in my lap!
For me, I also have many things I am grateful for this year. My chapter is going strong despite this pandemic. We have been meeting only virtually since March of 2019. We held our first ever Lughnasadh ritual this year. New members have joined and led some discussion. Our meetings are now more frequent than before. We held our first Monday night ritual with success and we are adapting well to all these changes.
Early in this pandemic, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, NJ (UUCM) started a weekly Drop In Covenant Group. Since losing my full time job pre-pandemic, I am able to attend just about every Wednesday afternoon. Towards the end of the meeting, the leader asks us to share what from that gathering we are grateful for and what we wish to offer a participant or the whole group. Just about every time I share how grateful I am to have that meeting. The participants agree with me. We express how thankful we are that she wishes to continue it now that many places are opening up again.
This is not our first pandemic, just the only one we have lived through. Our ancestors did not have Zoom, Facebook or other virtual platforms and social media outlets to keep in touch. During the Spanish Flu, AT&T begged people to stay off their lines. Bell Telephone, advertised messages of connection and keeping people informed during the quarantine however, they were unable to fulfill this objective. On Oct. 22, 1918, according to the New York Times 2,000 phone operators, which at that time was a third of the workforce, contracted the Spanish Flu and were out sick. Telephone companies sent out notices to restrict calls to emergency use only.
I could not imagine not being able to see my UUCM community and my CUUPs chapter on Zoom, talk to my second mom on Discord, and see my friends on Facebook and other virtual platforms. These people are family to me. This is what has gotten me through this pandemic and the quarantine and not feel completely isolated.
Last weekend, I held a barbecue for some of those friends. One friend said to me, barbecues are a lot of work and she asked me, “What’s the celebration?” At that moment, I did not think of a response other than I love grilling and seeing my friends. Now that I think of it though, I was celebrating my friendship. These friends have been there for me in one way or another. There is always something to be grateful for and a reason to celebrate.