Mabon in India: Adaptation

This Mabon, I drank apple juice, seated on the cushions in a rooftop cafe next to the Ganges in India.

Being immersed in a radically different climate reminds me that earth religions must be adaptable. Not only is modern Paganism widespread in the United States, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand due to cultural similarities and a common language, its symbolism and mythology is grounded in the four seasons. Naturally, considering that a large percentage of its practitioners can trace the evolution back to Great Britain. What does it become, then, in other climates?

If you don’t have forests, can you have a Green Man? Does our symbolism fail? And what, exactly, are we without four seasons?

My feet slipped softly into the sand as I made my way down to the Ganges. A couple of cows lounged on the beach, enjoying the sun and quiet, I suppose. Leaving the holy men in their orange robes and painted faces behind, I climbed over and around boulders, finally settling on one that rested at the water’s edge. Balancing cross-legged on the rounded surface, I gazed at the eddies swirling and disappearing in the sacred waters rolling by.

Letting my consciousness slip into the stone, I felt the heaviness tempered by the water’s movement. Permanence experiencing change in a slow etching of a trillion tiny droplets moving together. As many have said before, rivers are never the same. They, in a sense, are “water when it moves through this particular space at a generally large volume” — not quite the water itself, not quite the space. And this river is the spiritual artery of a nation.

Although the apple juice was lovely, trying to celebrate Mabon as if I was not in India denies the point of the holidays; which are for grounding yourself in the season, the cycles of the year. Shifts here are less subtle, and my spirituality flows into another expression, a different form of grounding. Because it has to, and I think that is healthy. Perhaps traditions like Wicca may not so easily translate to other areas of the world, but the core ideas — earth connection, world-immersion, and nature grounding — can find expression everywhere.

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