Lughnasadh 2017: Burned Fields and a Waterfall

[Note: if you aren’t Pagan, you may find this one a bit “out-there.” Comments are moderated.]

I like Lughnasadh a lot. The harvest festival reminds me that we are firmly in the waning half of the year, which is my soul’s joy for many reasons (weather, at least eventually, definitely among them!). It heralds the coming of beloved times and reminds me to think about what I have reaped, what I may need to sow next time, etc. so to speak. It’s a time for resetting, for gathering, and for taking note of the already-thinning Veil.

At some point during what should have been deep reflection during the late-night hours of Lughnasadh (and had been, until that point), I realized my face was wet. I am not a crier, and I feel pretty freaking “cried out” already after the year I’ve had, to the point where I couldn’t shed a tear at Arlington for my grandparents, for example. I haven’t wept in months, though my heart has been at times heavier than any stone. It has been, in all fairness, a year of heavy losses. Even my little online shop is gone now.

I don’t yearn for the past. But damn, it feels like this year was harsher than it needed to be for me to learn and to grow as I have. I found myself thinking that instead of just letting me harvest the fruits of my experiences and labors, this year has really burned the fields to the ground. I felt for a long time like I was burning, falling endlessly through the flames, though that eased to a dull pain I didn’t even notice for days at a time.

And yes, I did wonder why, on Lughnasadh. I’m not the most bullheaded person around (depending on who you ask); I can take instruction without being hammered over the head with it. Why the burning, on top of everything? Why such a rotten year? The blows seemed to keep on coming even after I pushed through a major roadblock on multiple fronts. It seemed like Someone wanted to be sure I was fully…something. Fallow? Hollowed out? Ashes?

I found myself saying that night, “Ok, I’m ready. I don’t know what’s next but here I am.”

Everyone else was asleep as I sat with my Lughnasadh flame (I’m a fire gal; it’s “my” element) and waited for an answer. All of the sounds of the house are amplified when the family is sleeping, and I was surprised to hear water running — just for a moment, like someone had turned on a tap just a smidge and then turned it off again. I got up and looked around to see if maybe one of the kids was out of bed, and it happened again. It was so clear this time that it had to be downstairs where I was, which left only the kitchen or the powder room, both empty.

I sat down in my desk chair, and then it happened again, louder still, like the tap was turned wide open — and then off again.

This time, before I could react, there was a roaring in my ears and I felt water — a cold waterfall, torrents — cascading down my back, entering me at the top of my back between my shoulder blades. It just kept coming.

I could not move. The water just kept pouring into me; I could feel it everywhere. It felt like rushing, unbridled power — it was almost too clean-and-crisp-feeling to withstand — and then the sensation just turned off. Every nerve ending I had was jangling merrily (I know — merrily?? after a shock like that? but they were, like they were singing delightedly to each other or something) and I tasted pine so strongly I thought I might seriously cough up a tree, needles spilling from my mouth and nose.

It didn’t hit me until a few moments later that the burning was gone. Not just further diminished, but well and truly gone. The absence of it was almost more shocking than what I’d just been through, and I almost burst into hysterical giggles at the difference. I felt too big and bright to contain in that moment, and I decided to take a long, hot shower to further put the burning days behind me.

When the water hit my back, I half-expected it to disappear into me. As I relaxed into the heat, I heard a door creak open. It’s not totally unheard of for my husband to come into the bathroom to say hello if I inadvertently woke him up, so I didn’t think anything of it at first. When he didn’t say anything after a moment, I said his name. Still nothing. I poked my wet head out of the curtain — the bathroom door was still closed and I could just barely make out his snoring on the other side.

As soon as I closed the curtain again, I felt someone standing on the other side of it. I clamped down on my first reaction and just stood there under the water. I’m listening.

Whoever was there made a gesture I couldn’t quite see through the curtain and suddenly all I could see was door after door slamming open, I think with the sheer force of the cold waterfall inside me except that this time, I was the water. All of it, and all of its power. Some of the doors were gates or just thresholds, but they all opened for me. They were happening so fast, not one after the other but twos and threes and more staggered all over infinity and all around me (or so it felt), just opening.

The shower was getting cold when I saw the familiar blurred form of the brown tile wall in front of me again. (Everything looks like a Monet painting without my glasses, so that was normal.) The Other presence had gone.

I don’t remember drying off or getting ready for bed but I must have done it, because I woke up the next morning in clean pajamas.

Lughnasadh had one surprise remaining that night. I dreamed that the skin and sinew of my back split open above my shoulder blades and I grew raven wings — at the same time that a wolf’s ruff sprouted from my neck. It was odd to not have those when I woke up.

I have no idea if that connects to the water. The burning hasn’t returned, and the water isn’t gone. I’m not sure the wings are either.

I’m really looking forward to this next chapter.