Wiccans have eight main holidays a year, following a solar cycle alongside the seasons. These holidays start (not unsurprisingly) at Halloween. There are high holidays and then what we call “cross quarters” which are held at each solstice and equinox. The holidays tell a cyclical story of our God, the Lord, going into the underworld, being born, meeting the Goddess, impregnating her growing old and being sacrificed so that he (and we) can be reborn.
There are side cycles too, of a battle between light and darkness (not like good and evil, but literally light and dark) where each aspect of the Lord rules half the year, culminating his reign at either solstice.
Tonight is Lammas, the high holiday where the Lord is sacrificed and enters the earth so that life can continue. Wiccans love symbolism, so we eat corn and generally pretend like we’re going to the harvest (even when we’re living in New York City!).
One story I like at this time is if the Goddess Inanna (Sumerian goddess of fertility) going into the underworld to visit the Queen of the Underworld. She is divested of all her trapping of power until she is stripped naked in the darkness. Inanna was killed and hung up on a hook for the Queen.
She was rescued by her loyal maidservant, but with the commandment that someone must take her place. She chose her consort Dumuzi, because he hadn’t mourned her when she passed. However, she mourned him, so a deal was struck that he would only go into the underworld for half a year.
That is, of course, the short version. What I like about this story, particularly as the seasons turn again is the idea of renewal. Inanna goes into the underworld, is stripped of all her power and all she holds dear, and is brought back to life with greater knowledge. Dumuzi was the Lord sacrificed so that Inanna could bring life to the earth again.
And so the cycles turn. In two and a half weeks I have to leave this place to go home, where everything will change and life will go on.religion