We give thanks for all those who are moved, in their lives, to heal and protect the earth, in small ways and in large. Blessings on the composters, the gardeners, the breeders of worms and mushrooms, the soil-builders, those who cleanse the waters and purify the air, all those who clean up the messes others have made. Blessings on those who defend trees and who plant trees, who guard the forests and who renew the forests. Blessings on those who learn to heal the grasslands and renew the streams, on those who prevent erosion, who restore the salmon and the fisheries, who guard the healing herbs and who know the lore of the wild plants. Blessings on those who heal the cities and bring them alive again with excitement and creativity and love. Gratitude and blessings to all who stand against greed, who risk themselves, to those who have bled and been wounded, and to those who have given their lives in service of the earth.
May all the healers of the earth find their own healing. May they be fueled by passionate love for the earth. May they know their fear but not be stopped by fear. May they feel their anger and yet not be ruled by rage. May they honor their grief but not be paralyzed by sorrow. May they transform fear, rage, and grief into compassion and the inspiration to act in service of what they love. May they find the help, the resources, the courage, the luck, the strength, the love, the health, the joy that they need to do the work. May they be in the right place, at the right time, in the right way. May they bring alive a great awakening, open a listening ear to hear the earth’s voice, transform imbalance to balance, hate and greed to love. Blessed be the healers of the earth.
As the days grow short and the nights lengthen in the northern hemisphere, the ancient Celtic tribes of Europe used to hold a celebration they called Samhain (sow-in). The Celts celebrated Samhain to mark the turning of the Wheel of the Year. At Samhain, the entire northern hemisphere officially enters into the dark half of the solar year. This is the time of year when the sun seems to turn away, and night lasts longer and longer. The dark half of our solar year officially begins on November 6th this year.
Samhain actually marked the beginning of the Celtic New Year in times past. At Samhain, the Celts paused and took time to reflect on the past and plan for the new year. They also believed Samhain was a time to connect with and honor loved ones who have crossed over into the land of the dead. And halfway across the world, the people of Mexico and Central America still celebrate Dia de los Metros (Day of the Dead) at this time of year.
Celtic Samhain is not just about celebrating death and those who have passed beyond. It is about celebrating life. The last of the year’s harvest is being gathered up in the fields and orchards now. Samhain is the perfect time to express gratitude to sacred Mother Earth for all the blessings and bounty she has provided for you and your loved ones.
Celebrating Samhain does not have to be complicated. Just take a few moments to pause and offer up a prayer of love and gratitude to those who have died. Go outside and offer gratitude to Mother Earth. Express thanks for everything you have harvested in your life. Simply pause and take a few moments to appreciate all the good that has come your way in the past year.
May the Spirit of peace
bring peace to your house
this Samhain night
and all nights to come.
New moon tonight in earthy Virgo, the keeper of sacred rituals and rhythms. This is a great time to honor our beautiful Earth with some small gesture of gratitude. Below are a few simple ways to express your gratitude:
- Sit outside. Offer a prayer of gratitude to Mama Earth for the water, food, oxygen and shelter she provides for you and your family.
- Return the favor. Plant a new tree or bush. Create cover and food for the birds, butterflies and bees in your neighborhood.
- Go Organic. Make a commitment to switch to using all organic fertilizers and pesticides in your yard. Visit your local nursery for guidance.
- Take a walk outside. Hum or sing your joy and gratitude for the beautiful grasses and trees and wildlife you encounter.
It is early August. Here in the northern hemisphere, we are in the midst of the hot, lazy “dog days” of summer. The expression “dog days” is believed to pre-date the Roman Empire. Our ancestors named this late summer season the dog days because at this time of year Sirius, the dog star, is closely aligned with the Sun in our sky.
The ancient Celtic people held the festival of Lughnasadh during the dog days of summer. It was their way of celebrating the start of the harvest season. Lughnasadh was typically held halfway between the Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox. It was a time of gratitude for the bounty of the harvest season. In many villages the first sheaf of wheat was harvested and ceremoniously ground and baked into bread for the festival of Lughnasadh. Bonfires were lit to honor the fiery energies of the Sun. The first fruits of the Earth were harvested and shared.
Later in Britain, the festival of Lughnasadh became Lammas Day. The festival of Lammas was held on August 1st in honor of the wheat harvest. The word Lammas comes from the Anglo-Saxon hlaf-mas or “loaf-mass.” On the day of Lammas it was customary to bring a loaf of bread made from the new crop to church in celebration and gratitude for the harvest.
Lughnasadh and Lammas are both ritualized ways for the community to acknowledge and honor the food that grows when Father Sun unites with Mother Earth. Our ancestors lived closer to the Earth and the cycles of the seasons. They understood that all life on Earth depends on the magical union of sun, seed and earth. In these modern times, it is easy to forget that all of our food comes from the bounty of Mama Earth. Every morsel is a gift from the Sun and Earth, even if purchased wrapped in cellophane at the local grocery store!
All of our clothing and shelter are also gifts from this sunny planet, as well as the oxygen we breathe. We have come a long way from the times of subsistence farming, yet we are still the children of Mama Earth and Father Sun, completely dependent on their gifts for life. And pausing to acknowledge and honor the start of the harvest season can be a wonderful way to reconnect with the beauty and bounty of Mama Earth.
Take a few moments in early August to connect with Mama Earth and Papa Sun. Offer up a simple prayer of thanks to Earth and Sun for all that you have in your life. You can also create a simple harvest ritual of your own. Just focus on giving thanks for this year’s bounty.
Your personal “harvest” may include more than just the food you eat – what else has come to fruition for you this year? Perhaps you have a new job or a new family member. Maybe you made progress on a project near and dear to your heart. Or perhaps you’ve found peace in a troubled part of your life. Take a few moments to honor all the gifts that you have received this year.
Simple ways to honor this year’s harvest:
- Prepare a dinner feast for family or friends and give thanks.
- Bake a loaf of bread in honor of the harvest season. Not a baker? Make corn bread or gingerbread.
- Light a candle and offer a heartfelt prayer of gratitude.
- Build a bonfire and dance a prayer of gratitude around it.
- Go outside and sit for awhile with Earth and Sun. Offer them a heartfelt thanks.
☼ ☼ ☼
“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest”
“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet
and the winds long to play with your hair.”
There is an earthy Celtic tradition that is simple, healing and fun. It involves speaking or singing your love and appreciation directly to the trees and flowers, birds and animals that you encounter in Nature.
For example, you might go out into your backyard and whisper to the pine trees. Tell them just how lovely their green branches are today. Or you might smile at the lavender bush and praise its scent. You could stop as you walk your dog, and thank the sky for the amazing cloud shapes that are floating over your head. And if you are feeling especially exuberant today, you could even sing your gratitude to the trees and flowers and sky. Or offer a little poem to the flowers about their beauty and how it affects you.
This ancient Celtic practice provides a simple way to honor your relationship with Nature. Our human lives are interwoven with the natural world in a multitude of ways. But we often forget just how important Nature is to our lives. This gratitude practice can help each of us to remember.