I don’t adhere to the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. That much is mostly obvious. But, like all people who venerate the Land, the Great Mother of us all, and all the Powers therein, I do spend a great deal of time and preparation to celebrate seasonally. It doesn’t matter a whole lot to me if those seasonal celebrations are traditional or not. We are each bound to our environment for better or worse, and those completely unconscious of it still enter into all sorts of seasonal traditions. Like, for example, going to the beach, getting out on Hobart Show Day, cleaning down the BBQ in the Spring in preparation of it’s excessive use in the Summer. This is what Aussies do. Pagans, Crafters, or not. This is our tradition.
The truth is, I also venerate my ancestors, and from them I take and keep the times and dates of festivals like Beltane, or Walpurgis Night, (Valborgsmässoafton in Swedish), both of which fall on 31 April in the Northern Hemisphere. Of course, in the hemispheric reverse. I have written an entire blog about how to keep a thing and make it environmentally relevant and specifically about Rosemas (as I call it) before. The essence of the Tradition of my Ancestors speaks to a relationship with their environment and the powers of it directly. And that is the premise always of my activity. It is difficult to describe oneself as traditional, and then do what it is that I do. I am sure people see my practices as eclectic. But as I hold fast to that premise, and develop that direct relationship I know there is little eclectic about it.
Rosemas is probably one of the hardest Traditions to keep to in any form recognisable. Of all the festivals of Europe, this is a fire festival. And increasingly I find I can not light one.
Refraining from bonfires at Rosemas seems like the most counter-intuitive thing, strangest taboo and furthest from the traditions of my Ancestors as humanly possible. But I am also as far geographically from the Land of my Ancestors as humanly possible (except possibly Patagonia). And Australia has been on fire for quite some days now.
It’s not new. It’s not unusual. Summer here in Australia is not generally getting any more conducive to human habitation. Or in fact habitation for anything that is not a Fire Dragon. Increasingly I think that the Fire Dragon has been let well out of the bag of human hubris. And our new Liberal federal government is not particularly interested in acknowledging the words of the wise ones who have warned of it’s coming and long term stay for many years now. Our heroes don’t fight with swords and armour like they did in the myths, and they tend to be identifiable by the heat resistant high visibility clothing, face masks, and their weapons are made of water. Metaphor or no, lives are lost, property and livelihoods destroyed, and the Land cracks and breaks under the strain of the yearly terror. And in NSW they’ve not even hit ‘peak season’ yet.
So at Rosemas, I plan on celebrating, empowering and invoking the strength of our most needful resource, our greatest weapon against the Fireworm and the Life Blood of all things. The thing that most represents the season here in Australia, beaches, rivers, and blessed cool and refreshment. The thing we take most for granted so often, have so little of, waste and pollute. It is custom in Britain that the bonfires bring luck, protection to cattle and people alike for those especially in rural areas. But such a custom flies in the face of the facticity of the charred bodies and earth of our rural communities. It has no real place here.
There is much in the old customs regarding Holy Wells being offered to and visited during Sacred Seasonal holidays in Europe. In Aboriginal Lore, many of the Dreaming Tracks and Songlines lead to water, so perfectly understood to be sacred by those people. These are the traditions and powers I will be drawing on.
My Rosemas celebration is now a Water Festival. Let it rain.