Relationships with the gods and spirits are for many reasons. For gifts, for help, because you like them, because you share some element, some essence. Reciprocity. I give to the Three that the universe might keep ticking on.
Perhaps in other perspectives the Three aren’t the movers and shakers of All That Is, but for me they are birth/life/death, they are land/sea/sky, they are the different ends of the cosmos and the Mother Tree that connects them. They are these things that keep life together.
And they are beings that give to me what is of their essence, and I try to give to them, that they might keep that essence strong. Self-sovereignty from the Morrigan: the power of boundaries, the attitude of the knife. Creation from Brighid: the ability to weave anew from the scraps left behind; the fires of healing, of poetry, of smithing. Peace from Manannan: a place to rest in the stillness, the ability to help those that need that peace. Finding the cold depths of myself in the liminal, limitless ocean.
It is all this and much more — for me, it is also the presence of the beloveds.
I didn’t know such a fierce fire of devotion could be awoken in my hearts until I met the Three, but it can, and it has, and I do adore them. I love them with all my heart, even when they aren’t there, even when I can’t feel them. I love them still. (And yes, I also love others — corporeal and not — with all my heart; maybe I have multiple hearts, for all the love I have.)
Whatever small rituals I manage to cobble together in my currently broken state, I do for their presence, I do to let them know I am still here, still loving them.
It is very hard to love them right now.
The seasonal rituals that I have put together are done for the purpose of connecting to them, of finding where they fit within the seasons that run through my life. I am busy building a cosmology where the Three are part of the seasons of British Columbia, the place where I will hang my hat for the foreseeable future.
Imbolc is Brighid’s, of course; her traditional day. Beltane is the Morrigan’s, and Samhain is Manannan’s. (The solstices and equinoxes are divided up a little differently.) And Loafmass, coming up in less than a week, is for all of them.
A summer holiday here in BC; also usually on the BC Day Long Weekend (which makes it very useful for modern practitioners). A day with various names in various traditions, but in this one that I am slowly cobbling together with whatever scraps I can find, it is a day — no, a season — of bread and berries.
A season, because blackberries especially, and they aren’t really in season until later in August. But other berries ripen throughout the summer in BC, and many childhoods were spent eating them right off the vine on our nature walks.
This is what summer has traditionally been for me: berries. Bread, not so much, not specifically to this time of year, but it is now, as I’ve folded in the other meanings of the day in other traditions. I like the idea of making bread, that needs the Three to come to fruition: the sun (Brighid) to ripen the wheat, the soil (the Morrigan) in which to grow it, the rain (Manannan) to help it reach high into the air. The milling of the flour, which evokes to me all of them; the combining of the ingredients — whatever they may be — with hands or with machine, done with the purpose of nourishment.
Nourishment, as they nourish the cosmos. As they nourish me.
But things change, and they will change more, and I will have to adjust, for I cannot stop this change. I don’t know that anyone can.
For now, there are the wildfires to consider. I don’t mean to say that BC has never had them — far from it, BC is one of many places that is a fire ecology, and colonial ideas that ignore First Nations wisdom about our history of wildfires has not helped those matters. Now, we are starting to listen — just in time for the fires to be worsened by another monster, a bigger one than colonialism: climate change.
I am watching this monster change the landscape of the place I was born to, the place I wish to die in, at the end of a very long life. This monster, aided in no small part by capitalism, which is doing its own renovations to the land, is burning BC in the summers and freezing it in the winters. Our winters are colder and snowier than usual. Our summers are getting hotter.
Cold and snowy winters — in southern BC, at least, even with climate change making them worse — are manageable. We have blankets and sweaters, and heaters in our cars and houses. Even without the heat turned on in our house, this past winter was survivable. Up north, it gets colder, of course, but even then — manageable.
Heat is another story. Especially in a province where most people don’t have AC, or a built-up tolerance for long heat waves.
Our summers are getting hotter, and for longer. Normally, southern BC’s June is called Junuary, and sometimes July is Julember. August is truly our hot month, bleeding into September. By the end of the first month back at school, we’re into fall weather.
Or we used to be. Now the weather is anybody’s guess from year to year. But one thing is pretty clear: we’re getting hotter.
I’m supposed to be preparing for a Loafmass spent at my mom’s place in Powell River, but all I can think is that driving up there this weekend is going to be absolute hell, because the ferries don’t run at night and I’m going to be stuck in my car in a heat wave. All I can think is that we were foolish when we decided winter was the dead time, because I feel more alive when I can put on a sweater and drink some hot cocoa while watching the snow fall outside than I do in a heat wave like this. I may as well be roadkill cooking on the asphalt.
All I can think is that I want to sleep, all the time, and my higher brain functions are on the fritz because it’s too damn hot. All I can think is that I’m stickier than a glazed donut and I don’t want to be doing any ritual right now.
I love my gods and I want to do these rituals — to honor them, to have a reciprocal relationship, to give to them as they give to me, to be in the presence of the beloved — but it is so hard right now.
It is hard to exist in this heat and think of how much I love the gods that keep the universe ticking on, because all I want to say to them is “Hey could you cool it down a bit, for fuck’s sake? Where’s the rain, Dad?”
But of course, it doesn’t work like that. They are both what keeps the universe ticking on and not; they are both the infinite powers behind everything, and separate from them, the children of beings too vast for the human mind to contemplate. Solely representative of powers greater than we can grasp, and at the same time, wholly what they are representing. But I can’t ask them to just turn on the water when it’s hot. It doesn’t work that way.
I honor them for keeping the universe ticking on, but that doesn’t make them omnipotent. The universe, and all the beings that inhabit it, will keep on doing what it pleases. Interventions, divine or otherwise, won’t necessarily make a damn difference.
So I keep praying for rain, and use whatever vestiges of my heart and soul that haven’t been cooked to a crisp to love them, as much as I can.
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