Promises at the Beginning of the Harvest

Sheep near the Giant’s Causeway in the UK

Typically, I do not write very much about how I go through celebrating the various aspects of the Wheel of the Year. So I thought I would try my hand at doing so. For the next turn of the Wheel – from Luhnasadh to Lughnasadh – I’ll be writing about how I went through each celebratory turn of the year. Hopefully, someone will get something out of all of these coming posts, and find inspiration in their own Path.

I don’t normally do the celebrations of the Wheel with others, except Imbolc and Spring Equinox. Imbolc is through a gathering of ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin) folks down near Mountain Home, Texas. Spring Equinox is done with some OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids) members at the Gulf Coast Gathering down in a very nicely wooded park near Mandeville, Louisiana. Both groups of folks are like family to me, though I have done both my Bardic and Ovate initiations in Louisiana (I am not a member of the ADF). The rest of the Wheel of the Year is spent on my own, though I am looking into changing aspects of that going forward (provided my life kinda settles down where health issues are concerned).

Lughnasadh tends to be conflated with Lammas by a lot of folks. The reality is that while both celebrate the same thing – the start of the harvest – and around the same time frame – the beginning of August – these are two different holidays from two different cultures. Lammas comes from English and Scottish cultures, while Lughnasadh comes from Celtic roots, specifically. For me, I don’t really draw that fine of a distinction between the two. Same time frame, same celebratory reason, similar name…for me, I’m not too picky, they’re the same. There are many folks that will disagree with me on this point, and frankly, I’m perfectly fine with that.

As this is the start of the harvest, I tend to watch for signs in my local community to see how close the local farmers follow to this period of time. A few days ago, August 5th to be precise, I noticed that the corn farmers in the area were already harvesting their crops. Noting this in my journal, I started the preparations that I needed for my own following of this time frame. Now I do not have garden on my backyard, so there is not much for me to harvest. But, there are ways I can work off of this concept from a symbolic perspective, none of which is really all that much of a ritual.

I will be honest, the typical perspective of what a ritual is does not really fit into my aspect of daily practice. I m unlikely to spend a lot of time calling quarters or acknowledging the Gods, the Spirits of the Land, or even the Spirits of Ancestor. For me, personal, individual practice is a lot shorter and quieter in terms of ritual. I find less pull and interaction from the Gods and the Spirits during ritual, and a ton more from being out and about in my day and evening. Formal ritual is a wonderful, bonding moment and emotion when with other people. The creation and enactment of those particulars brings a bond of emotion that is incredible, but rarely do I get the tug of the Gods and Spirits in those moments.

Lughnasadh was spent indoors for me this year. The temperatures outdoors are fairly hot during this time of the year in Texas, and this year is no exception. After my pneumonia from the end of last year, and my recent diabetic seizure, I am careful with where and when I place myself outdoors these past few months. I might be a bit too cautious with extreme weather conditions at this time, but I am trying to take care of myself a bit better.

Anyways, I held my observation of this turn of the Wheel indoors, in my office. As I noted, I am not a farmer, I am without a garden in my yard, and do not really have much to harvest. A trip to the grocery store had netted from fresh vegetables and fruit, and I pulled an apple and an orange into the office with me. I gave my nod to the four directions, sat and held each piece of fruit in my hand. I contemplated where it might have come from, the trip that it took to get to the grocery store, before I bought it and brought it home. Certainly, neither had grown in the wild, but rather were more likely to have been on trees in large farms. Then there were the people who had picked/harvested the fruit from those trees, some were probably migrants here in the United States – potentially having crossed the border, illegally. Forgetting the politics of their plight, I focused on the idea of what brought them here, the desire for a new life for themselves and their families. Yes, even they are mixed into the harvest aspect that we should give thanks for. Thanks that these folks are taking a chance to find a better life, to find freedom. There is so much that goes into the concept of the harvest.

Strange as it may seem, I look to Lughnasadh to be something akin to the American tradition of Thanksgiving. This is time to thank the Land for providing for us, to thank the Ancestors for providing their guidance, and thanking the Gods for Their presence in our lives. Once I reached this point, I took a knife and carved the apple and the orange into slices. The first full slices to come from both were set off to the side, and I ate my fill of the rest. The leftovers, minus the first pieces, were placed in a container that I took to work. These would be my snacks over that Monday upon my return to work. The first slices, I took out to the eastern circle (my stone circle is currently dismantled for cleaning) and I set these on a smaller stone from the circle as an offering to the Land, a reminder that we give back to the Land that which we take. This to complete the cycle of sustenance that we receive.

In my view, Lughnasadh is a time of giving thanks to our Gods, the Spirits of the Land, and our Ancestors who have come before. We are starting the time of harvest. Life has the promise of plenty, the promise of being alive, the promise of survival for the coming Winter. And where we have plenty, we can provide to others. Show the kindness that makes us who we are. For in the actions of kindness, we can show outwardly to the rest of the world that there is a part of the world that cares for others. To me, this is part of the reminder of how we are all connected to one another…and to me, that is the promise for the future. The promise from Lughnasadh.

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