Well, Mabon (sorry for my previous foolishness calling it Lughnasad; more on that, later) has come and gone. I managed to complete one large, slightly wonky woven straw cornucopia, and filled it to the brim with more iced cookies and treats than all of my work colleagues, and a few from nearby, could finish.
My little garden didn't do so well, so I've had very little harvesting to do, although I hope this will change next year, as I'm trying to find out about local allotment spaces for rent. Instead of harvesting vegetables, I've been studying and expanding my knowledge. Not so much of ritual and myhtology, but of the practical and everyday side of my faith. Herbology, medicinal uses for everyday items and household remedies. Home soap-making, preserving and brewing techniques, and baking. Straw-crafting, and harvesting from nature. I've been practicing meditation with my pendulum, and studying my tarot. I've started working on a set of runestones made from a fallen branch, and have been compiling a personal grimoire of information regarding all of the above.
I came to Paganism in my late teens, having found a brief spell of flirting with atheism utterly alien and unfulfilling, and having lost any will to believe the rote and scripted, sanitised stories offered up by "organised" religion. The dawning realisation that my heart was in Pagan faiths came to me organically. It was less of a conversion... and more an act of discovering that things I had always felt were true, little things that felt so right and small personal rituals I had followed since childhood had a name.
It was as though I had spent my life wandering, lost, in a strange land, unable to speak or understand the local language. Without any memories to tell me from where I had come, or in which direction my home lay, nor any means to ask for directions. But with always a lingering feeling that I had a home, somewhere, and with odd habits that could only be remnants of my old life, in the home country I could not remember. Then, one day, I turned a corner after a period of wandering through wilderness, only to see another traveller, dressed like me, and with the same habits as me. We nod our heads in recognition, and greet eachother in passing. Our language is the same! Over time, my will to search renewed, I find more glimpses of the lost land of my birth. The odd written text in a language I can recognise, or an encounter with people following a ritual that feels familiar. I haven't yet found the land I call home, but I know its name now, and call to it.
The thing about all that waffle above is, because of the manner in which I have come to my faith, I have no coven or group to call my own. My pat of discovery was a path taken alone, and necessarily took what appears at times a tangential direction from that commonly followed by mainstream Pagans. I've taught myself most of what I know, although my partner has helped me to find my own path, and I get certain things "wrong" as a result. For a long time I pronounced Samhain phonetically, and I confuse Mabon and Lughnasad all the time. The Triple Goddess and Horned God that I bow my head to are as much creations of my own understanding of what a God should be as they are the Nature-based deities of old and new Pagan paths. I think that Terry Pratchett's idea of a "dark morris" for the dark half of the year to balance the colourful and noisy Summer morris dance is really neat. I self-identify as a "Granny Weatherwax".
For me, what rituals I do engage in are more about the spiritual than the physical. I own no "101 spells for beginners" books, nor do I have 20 different coloured candles for appropriate spells. My wand is a cut, sanded and beeswax-polished piece of wood cut from a fallen branch, not a bright confection of crystals and ribbon with intricate engravings. My pendulum is plan brass, but very well weighted. I own no cauldron, scrying stone or crystal ball, although I would like to learn to read tea leaves. My runes, when completed, will be plain, flat pieces of wood with the relevant symbols burnt into one side. I do no elaborate dances, sing no chants and focus my energies instead on quiet, ritual meditation, visualising everything that I need. If an athame is required, there are plenty of knives in my kitchen drawer, and a wonderful, blunt flip-knife given to me by my father.
If I were to ever sit down with a coven member and discuss Paganism, I am sure they would find me very ignorant regarding my faith, and I don't know if I ever really could join a group, now, as my personal relationship with nature is developed so much, now. This does leave me feeling somewhat nervous to even try and converse with more learned Pagans, sadly.
But that doesn't really matter. Paganism today is likely so very different to the Paganism practiced in older times, and it hasn't done us any harm, so it seems to me that the really important parts will remain regardless of the manner in which one practices.