Eighteen years ago, my priest/husband/co-author and I outlined a spiritual path that got to the bare bones of the agricultural sabbat cycle and created a plan for positive life change through magical manifestation. What was born of those long nights of drinking, writing, drinking, researching, drinking, and plotting was CUSP (Climbing Up the Spiral Pathway). Little did we realize that it would turn into a practice used worldwide and by practitioners of many faiths. It influences our lives daily. Before CUSP, my year of sabbats looked like this: Yule (presents), Imbolc (candles), Ostara (finally working outside again), BELTANE (HELL YES!), Litha (Hi…we’re at… Litha), Lughnasadh (How do you spell that again?), Mabon (Thanksgiving!), and SAMHAIN (HELL YES!).
Once CUSP developed and we researched into and applied the agricultural significance of each holiday as a touch point in the year toward our own life improvement, each of the eight celebrations became its own vital and living component. CUSP embraces the idea that humankind has internal imprinting from when we depended on agricultural for our sustenance, when spiritual life and mundane life all supported the growth and success of the harvest. Even though many of us no longer farm in the literal sense, our internal clocks and rhythms still react to the well-worn paths marked by our ancestors.
One does not have to work hard to attune to these natural cycles. We must only honor the connection that is already within us and strengthen the existing bond to the natural flow. The goal of CUSP is manifestation of the life you want to live and we build it around the structure of the agricultural year like this:
Winter Solstice/Yule – The Spark – December 21*
In the darkest moment of the longest night of the year, the spark of light comes to the sky. We use this imagery to light the spark of inspiration within ourselves for what we want to plant in the coming year. We meditate and envision our life as it is now, then how we wish it to be at the end of harvest the coming year. Over the next six weeks until Imbolc, we finalize a list of goals for the coming harvest. We use no filters such as “that cannot be” or “I could never do that.” “The List” is the foundation for what we will plant for the coming year and we dream big.
Imbolc – Plan– February 1*
With our perfect list in place, we now present it to The Universe, commit to our plan, and send it out to the Gods for confirmations and redirects. Over the coming six weeks until Ostara, we tune into the worlds around us, both seen and unseen, and watch for signals that guide us. If we pay close attention, we will notice unmistakable support for or redirection from the goals we listed. It is common for some of the goals to manifest during this time, purely from the magical act of including them on the list.
Spring Equinox/Ostara – Plant – March 21*
After six weeks of planning and listening to Deity, we arrive at Ostara to plant our goals. With planting, we begin the active part of the year that will last until Samhain. Our group does an actual planting, using bean seeds in a small peat pot filled with potting soil. We choose a bean for each goal and plant them in ritual, blessing them with earth, air, fire, and water, and asking for the divine blessings upon them. At this time, we begin “acting in accord” by starting the mundane processes of working toward our goals.
Beltane – Faith – May 1*
Beltane is a time of Faith because we may or may not see what is happening with our little seeds below the earth. There may be tiny sprouts or they may come later. At Beltane, we fertilize both our plants and our goals by stepping up the pace on our efforts.
Summer Solstice/Litha/Midsummer – Promise – September 21*
The time of the High Sun shows our plants standing high and green in the fields. At Litha, we begin to see how our goals will manifest, although like the tiny corns that are in the field, they are still too immature to harvest. Litha gives us the promise of what is to come in the harvest months.
Lammas – The Harvest – August 1*
At the time of the first harvest, our activity shifts from nurturing and cultivating to the sweaty, demanding work of harvest. During this rewarding time, the fruits of our months of work start to roll in. The first harvest is the direct result of our own actions and our own efforts. What we have planted in faith now manifest in our lives and we experience the exhilarating rush of its fruition.
Autumn Equinox/Mabon – Boon – September 21*
Mabon brought quite a boon to the ancient farmers. While they were putting away crops from the fields for winter storage, nature yielded up another bounty that would grow with or without their efforts. They could supplement their harvest with the fruits of the trees, bushes and vines, and with nuts, roots and other forms of food that were gifts from Gods. Likewise, Mabon brings us unexpected bonuses and blessings for our own harvest.
Samhain – Surrender –November 1*
At Samhain, we release our expectations of the harvest and celebrate the death of the year. We allow the fields to rest for the six weeks until the harvest year begins again at Yule and rest our bodies and minds as well. Samhain teaches us that there is a time when we must let go and be done. Samhain begins the inactive time of the year when we slip into the introspection of darkness. As we move through the year with this blog, each sabbat, I will include a deeper look into its place in the process of CUSP, as well as how energy magic infuses the harvest process to create a better life each year, building on the successes of the previous harvests.
Next week, we explore Ostara in two blog posts. If you would like to know more about CUSP, you can get the Cliff Notes in the book The Real Magic, or you can order the full book, called CUSP: A New Way to Walk An Old Path, or you can get both CUSP: A New Way to Walk An Old Path and Energy Magic in the combo book called Energy Magic Compleat. All are available on Amazon.com at the links provided.
*Dates are based on the Northern Hemisphere and will be different for Southern Hemisphere