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Lughnasadh – Harvest Beginnings

July 28, 2011

Harvest bounty

LUGHNASADH – the beginning of the harvest season

Lughnasadh, traditionally celebrated on August 1, is the time to begin harvesting the fruits of the seeds – and dreams – planted in the spring. This midpoint between the Summer Solstice and the Fall Equinox is when the first grains are ready for harvest and the bounty offered by Mother Earth is ready to be processed and stored for the winter to come. From harvesting and drying grains to making jam and canning beans and tomatoes, the season of gathering in has begun.

For agrarian societies, carefully harvesting and preserving nature’s bounty was the key to survival through the long Winter as well as making sure there were seeds to plant for next spring.. In our “modern” day culture, we tend to forget about these seasonal imperatives. After all, if we want fresh strawberries in January, we just go to the supermarket. The Realm of Faerie, however, is still tuned to the Wheel of the Year and those of us who pay homage to the Spirits of Nature make our small efforts to attune ourselves to that cycle as well.

The harvest season, which begins with Lughnasadh, is a time of “gathering in,” of personal reflection on what we have “grown” in our lives. What did you plant last spring? What projects have you started this year? What friendships have you made? What ideas have you sent out into the world? This is a time to pause and look around you, to see which of the seeds you’ve planted have taken root, grown, and borne fruit. Look closely, even in what seems like a weed patch, and see if there’s something growing in there that you might harvest. Dandelion leaves, after all, are nutritious and delicious, as long as they haven’t been sprayed with herbicides, and you might consider gathering a few of their seed puffs to offer the Fairies for a treat in mid-Winter. (The Fairies weave blankets and clothing from the fibers and use the seed puffs for pillows as well.)

In the warmth of the late-July sun, when tomatoes are barely starting to blush and the blackberries are still hard, tiny, and green, it’s hard to rouse oneself from the joyous leisure of summer but the Fairies, while teaching us how to be in the moment, never forget to keep their eyes on what lies ahead. There were twice as many zucchini in the garden this morning as there were three days ago; it’s as though everything is rushing to get in the final spurt of growth. Even the plants know that the season is getting ready to change, that it’s time to produce the fruit that carries the food for the winter and the seeds to begin the cycle again next spring.

Take a few moments on this Lughnasadh to look around and inside you and see what your life-garden has grown this year. What new projects or ideas have sprouted in your life? Are there new friends who are “feeding” you, who will be with you through the winter to come? Now is the time to make sure you “harvest” those gifts, the time to preserve them.; and it’s the time to offer thanks to the Earth Mother and her Fairy helpers for all the glorious gifts the Season of the Sun has brought.

For more information about the history of Lughnasadh and ritual ideas for celebrations, try these websites:

http://www.chalicecentre.net/lughnasadh.htm
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usma&c=holidays&id=3558
http://www.llewellyn.com/encyclopedia/article/7828
http://www.druidry.org/obod/festivals/lughnasadh.html

Bright Blessings!

–Bridget Wolfe

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