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Monday, August 1, 2016

Honoring the Beginning of the Harvest

   Today is Bron Trogain, better known by most pagans as Lughnasadh (Lunasa) or Lammas. Its a multifacted holiday for me, with Irish aspects as well as Fairy aspects. But I like the layers and complexity and I like that it isn't something simple, something easy to sum up in a quick ritual and move on from.

I always know when we are approaching this holiday, simply by watching the world around me. No matter how the year has gone, whether the summer has been hot or mild, whether we have had lots of rain or only a little, it is always right around now that the first leaves start to change color and fall. I watch as the trees go from rich summer-green to the beginnings of yellowing, watch as the the first bare branches start to appear and a handful of withered leaves decorate the drying grass. It's a subtle thing, nowhere near the drama and panoply that will be on display by September, but it is there nonetheless. Even as we enter the hottest portion of the summer the autumn is making its presence known and I see it.



Of course this holiday is very much traditionally about two things; the harvest and the community. These things are strongly present in my area today, sometimes in the same form as they always have been - the harvest is always about gathering and eating the bounty of the earth after all - and sometimes in newer forms that echo the old, as we see in today's harvest fairs. In my area I might add not only harvest fairs but also farmer's markets, a decidedly modern trend that nicely honors the spirit of the season. We gather both our own harvest if we've grown any, or in the case of my family we collect the wild harvest that has grown untended in our yard, as well as benefiting from the wider local harvest, the fresh produce and locally grown foods that are now available and abundant. We go out and enjoy a variety of local country fairs, which feature contests and competitions as well as games and amusements. The local fairs still have a very agricultural focus, with many different farm animals being shown and competing, but also have the air of a carnival with rides and games of skill. Like the old Lughnasadh celebration these fairs are not a one day thing but run for several days and the variety of them from town to town stretch across weeks - usually with a few in early August and the last in late September or early October.

I've written several times before about the way my family celebrates, so I won't get too much into that again here. Basically we harvest berries from our yard and make an offering of some of them to the Gods, spirits, and ancestors. The rest we eat. We have our own at home athletic games, and we decorate our outdoor altar as best we can with flowers, if we can find any, or otherwise with greenery. We hold a small ritual in honor of Macha, and recently we also started honoring Nuada with her after I had a dream about the two being honored together on Bron Trogain. This has been working really well for us and has a lovely feel to it.

Prayer that I heard in a dream
Another aspect of this holiday for me is honoring the Gods of Fairy Witchcraft as we move into the second part of the light half of the year. Now we are basically at the height of the rule of the Gods of summer, the Lady of the Greenwood and Lord of the Wildwood. Life is flourishing and we are at a point when we - and all animals - have the greatest abundance of food available. The young born this season in the wild are maturing and the trees and plants are producing their own fruits and seeds in order to carry on their respective species. It is a time of fertility and of celebrating the joy of being alive even as we harvest what we need to ensure continued survival. As hot and dry as the world may seem at this time* it is teeming with life and potential - and also with the need to look forward to the coming darkness that is only a short three months away. This year we celebrate Bron Trogain and honor the Gods of the Light today and tomorrow we honor the Gods of the winter on the Dark moon, the time each month to remember them. This is uniquely good timing I think as it reminds us in the midst of Summer's heat and abundance that Winter's cold and scarcity is always with us as well (just as the reverse is also true).

Fairy Witchcraft altar to the Summer Gods

The harvest has begun and we are plunging into the depths of summer, the hot days which will ripen the grains and grasses and keep our harvest on its ancient schedule. We move on from here to the equinox, then to the final harvest where we will say goodbye to summer at last and welcome winter. As always I watch the changes in the world around me, my fingers stained red with berry juice, and think of my own harvests, of fruit and of less tangible things. I pray to the Gods, to Macha and Nuada, for their blessings on me and my household. I pour out offerings and leave flowers at my Fairy thorn and ask that there always be friendship between myself and the Other Crowd.

And a dark brown moth flutters past, then back, then alights on my shoulder for several moments, resting in the shade where I stand as I hold perfectly still, before resuming its flight through the hazy air.


*in my area, of course. Your situation may vary greatly so adjust for your own circumstances, and I do encourage you to give thought to how this does apply to you where you live. Those in the southern hemisphere will be celebrating Imbolc now and not see the point of this post for another six months, but perhaps reading this then may be more useful.


3 comments:

  1. I love reading your blog! I am rather knew to Paganism and you always have so much information. I have also read several of your books :) Thanks so much for all your work in getting information out.

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  2. I love the way you and your family honor and celebrate this time so meaningfully. Quite honestly, I don't see a lot of this where I live. In ritual, yes, but otherwise not. I see these things being honored and acted upon in living and integrating them in the day to day life and actions. Harvest is about just that. You can celebrate it all you want in ritual, but I believe it should be more than that. It's a major reason I broke away and decided to do my own thing. I love your suggestions, especially for those with less options for growing, of farmer's markets and community.

    Another beautiful post. I will be saving and cherishing this one, and very specific others, yearly. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love the way you and your family honor and celebrate this time so meaningfully. Quite honestly, I don't see a lot of this where I live. In ritual, yes, but otherwise not. I see these things being honored and acted upon in living and integrating them in the day to day life and actions. Harvest is about just that. You can celebrate it all you want in ritual, but I believe it should be more than that. It's a major reason I broke away and decided to do my own thing. I love your suggestions, especially for those with less options for growing, of farmer's markets and community.

    Another beautiful post. I will be saving and cherishing this one, and very specific others, yearly. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete