The Scythe

harvest_sceneThe Lammas story, they say, begins with John Barleycorn, a scythe, and the hand of the Goddess.

“They’ve hired a man with a knife so sharp
For to cut him through the knees
And they’ve pitched Barleycorn
and tied him down with thorn
And served him barbarously”

Our senses want to run immediately to the pain of the situation and say, “Why does there even need to be a loss?” We hear this deeply in the Gaia Consort song “The Scythe”:

“In some flinch of your shoulder,
some look in your eye
I see the fear of disorder,
the fear of the scythe – comin’ down”

When we experience deep loss, we might even feel the rage along with our Goddess, as in the myth, The Descent if Innana. She ventures into the Underworld to challenge Death directly, demanding of him, “Why do you cause everything I love to die?” I’d like to think that, at that moment, she might have felt as grouchy as I can.

Death replies that Old Fate, one of the gods of traditional witchcraft, is out of even his jurisdiction. He gently reminds her that he does bring comfort and peace through reunion after death.

Lammas is a ritual crystallization of that very moment of questioning. As in all things, we want to place a value on our experiences, calling one experience good, and another evil. In the story of Caw! Or, That Poor Bastard, we see how events are not so simple as we might think they are.

Once upon a time, a kindly witch had an apprentice, whom she loved like a son. One day, he dropped her cauldron on his foot, and broke it. And, her Raven friend in the tree said, “Caw!” Which is Raven for, “That sorry bastard. Bad karma!” And, the witch said, “Maybe yes, maybe no. We will wait and see.”

Finally, his foot healed, but left him with a limp. Time passed, and war broke out. Every man in the village was drafted, except the apprentice, because his injury excluded him. And, opinionated Raven on her rooftop said, “Caw!” Which is Raven for, “That lucky bastard! The gods are looking out for him.” And, the witch said, “Maybe yes, maybe no. We will wait and see.”

In the meantime, the apprentice wanted to marry. Being gay, he had no boyfriends to choose from. And, the noisy Raven on her shoulder commented, “Caw!” Which is Raven for, “That sorry bastard. Bad karma!” And, the witch said, “Maybe yes, maybe no. We will wait and see.”

Time passed, and all wars end. But, when sickness comes, it takes a wise healer to defeat it. The apprentice had learned well from his teacher, and he stewed that obnoxious raven with healing herbs, and saved everyone. And he said, “Ha!” Which is human for, “That poor bastard.” (Humorously retold by L. Barshana Kyraphia)

And so we can that only in the fullness of time can we truly see fortune as good or illl… and sometimes, not even then.

The scythe is merciful. It removes the things that distract us, lock us into place, and leave us feeling stranded, far away from even our own feelings. As witches, we can use the Lammas energy to ritually cull those overgrown bits that induce separation, or to harvest the completed work we have so carefully tended. Finally, Lammas is the invocation of rest, the first time in the Wheel of the Year where we can catch our breath and relax. The scythe can cull, can harvest, or can set aside, but in all cases, the scythe is the mercy of the Goddess.

I Need Some Asbestos Skis

My spirit might as well be in hell right now.  When I say this, I don’t mean my butt is on fire and I’m skiing across the lake of fire on my asbestos skis.  I mean, things are rough on very subtle and not so subtle levels.  Yesterday, I was working in the garden and there were some leftover items in our garden cart that needed to move out of the way to get to the compost.  Pushing the cart didn’t move it very far (how odd), and then without considering why I pushed it further and over it tipped.  I got determined and I pushed the cart sideways out of the way with my hip on my way through, congratulating myself on not “even getting mad” at this turn of events.  I will return to this story in a moment.

Astrologically, things are rough right now.  They are damn rough.  A close friend came by this morning asking what was up: “at least 3 friends were in serious crisis.”  The planet is experiencing the 3rd of 7 Pluto Uranus squares and people be hatin’.  When Uranus comes through the scene we find deep changes, new inventions, revolution, and higher awareness.  We just LOVE changes right?  We always embrace changes with open arms and a big smile.  Well, if it comes bearing cheesecake that is.   Most of the time our conditioning has us utterly panicking as change arrives.  Depending on its house placement in our chart its effect often is felt as shocking, unpredictable, and erratic. Pluto brings destruction, transformation, and renewal.  Its effect on our life (once again based upon its placement in our chart) is grinding, ruthless and extreme.  And what happens when these two rogue cowboys are running amok on the planet at odds with each other? Look around.  Who are we praying for right now?

makingdueSo the real question is, we have 4 more of these, how do we get through?   By educating our soul.  Kabir Helminski says, “this education of the soul…is a process of awakening a presence that can initiate and sustain the activation of our latent human faculties.”  We need ALL our faculties to be functioning folks, not latent.  These transits through various aspects of our life educate our soul about our true relationship with the larger Reality (God, Universe, Divine Presence) and are a benevolent universe’s systematic removal of those obstacles to that knowledge.  We get to become more real, more human!! This removal and re-creation process is essentially a process of deconditioning, reconditioning, and unconditioning.

Back to the garden cart (I didn’t forget!) On some level,  I was moving forward trying to DO something that I set out to do (get through an obstacle course), making my yard look a certain way (cause that’s what responsible people do), interacting with the things in my care, all without pausing to figure out why perhaps the cart didn’t move.   When I observe myself energetically and psychologically I discovered that I have conditioned myself to push myself through situations who qualities do not include that didn’t checking in and make changes to my trajectory based upon the truth of the situation vs my perceived understanding.  Later I found out through my Father that my garden cart tires need to be filled and if they HAD moved very far I would have to replace my tires.   My lack of presence into the situation then would have created more damage, facilitating more stress, and locking me into a pattern that I would then have to also respond to.  And then I could congratulate myself about my mature response to the situation then too! (God bless my ego)

At the end of the day, my interaction with my garden cart is a metaphor, and it is also the physical reality.  My actions with it and towards it is an indicator of the way in which I can often be unaware of what I am doing and why, the unexamined way in which I follow my inner programming assuming that my instinct or thoughts are the right or best way.    It is this zombie response that shapes interactions and ultimately the direction of our friendships, our relationship to possessions, and the raising of our loved children.  Right now, in this transit, this is the liability.

So, to get through this transit, we need to get real practiced at stepping back from the obstacles we are trying to push through.  Examine that cart with our inner eye, use our reason and intuition around what we are trying to do and take to task the “whys” that formed those.  Then, pray for guidance from the Higher Power (as you see it) since that Power sees farther than we do and then surrender to the outcome.

The control freak in all of us gets all medieval about surrender. 

That desire to control and manipulate the outcome is oft directly related TO our social and cultural conditioning.  While Pluto and Uranus might be impersonal in their systematic removal of those things that we sedimentally hold, the Universe does have our backs.  Every single person on this planet is held and guided.  The pain we are in, are coming out of, or might be coming, while difficult and not our idea of a good time, often has a noble purpose.

 So if my heart can offer a prayer for you out of my own experience of pain and loss:

 I pray that you receive guidance in a way that you can see it, the capacity to follow it, that it is easier than those that went before you, and protection from the blessing as it unfolds. 

Life’s going to get interesting folks… Pluto Retrograde in April 2013

Pluto goes retrograeYesterday, Pluto went retrograde. But before we groan too much about that, I would like to make an observation about Pluto and those people who have an interest in the occult, the healing arts or in mysticism. For many in this cross-section of humanity, what is of interest here is the cycle of death/rebirth. Somewhere in our past we came to see that this cycle is part of everything and really is where all the fun happens 🙂 (If you know what I mean *wink*)


Change, renewal, and the beautiful opportunities that come out of a good blast of understanding are the witch/mystic/healer’s bread and butter. And we also know it is Pluto who rules this process. Pluto’s role in the zodiac is that of a slowly (and I mean very slowly) moving liberator. It moves into an area and initiates a comprehensive process of regeneration for everything, large or small, in the area. On the first pass through, this process is felt as death or great tumultuous loss. When Pluto goes retrograde it backs up over the same area.  This time,  Pluto’s influence feels like a potent revitalization as the poorly functioning elements of the system have already kicked the bucket which means new life is being breathed into the freshly open spaces. This is akin to using an aerator on your lawn. From one perspective, you are pulling out plugs of living tissue, but from another perspective, you are providing space for things to grow.


When Pluto goes direct again, and crosses the area for the last time, its healing powers invigorate the new installed system and the new mechanisms now spring forward in beautiful rebalanced harmony, or said another way: a new life free from the old, sick, or broken elements of the pre-existing system.


So fellow mystics, with Pluto going retrograde, I can hear the healers from around the world breathing a sigh of relief. They are saying, “wonderful, the death part is over… let the rebirth begin.”


So scry into Pluto’s work in your life. Look for what is being reborn.  know that you made it through the tunnel and the light at the end… it is a phoenix not a train 🙂