Late Summer Harvest

The Golden Lions of Lugh

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.

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“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest”
~William Blake

Practice Gratitude

Aspens In Fall

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet
and the winds long to play with your hair.”

~Khalil Gibran

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.

 

New Moon Forgiveness

Phases of the Moon

Look up tonight. The sky will be dark and the stars should be especially bright. This is new moon time.

Our ancestors who lived closer to the earth and in synchrony with the moon and sun cycles, liked to hold healing rituals during this potent new moon time. It is the perfect to time to release and let go of what no longer serves you.

Forgive and Let Go

“We are all like the bright moon, we still have our darker side.”
~Khalil Gibran

The dark phase of the moon is the perfect time to let go of inner darkness and make space for more light and love. Many times we hang onto dark events in our past because we cannot forgive another person. Or we cannot forgive ourselves. When it comes to forgiveness, ritual can be a great help to us. Ritual can help us amplify our intentions. Ritual can put a little extra power into our prayers.

When most people think of rituals, they picture an elaborate high Mass at church, or long drawn out funeral. But ritual does not need to be elaborate to be meaningful. Listed below is a simple ritual to help you forgive and let go.

10 Minute Forgiveness Ritual

  • Create a list of 3-6 things you want to forgive and release.
  • Light a candle.
  • Offer up a short prayer; ask Spirit to help you forgive and let go.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply.
  • As you breathe, offer yourself love despite some mistake that haunts you.
  • Then offer that same love to others who hurt you as well.
  • If tears come, allow yourself to cry and release.
  • Burn your list.
  • Dance to release even more; put on a favorite song and move. Dance and shake!
  • Think of one intention you want to hold for the months ahead.
  • State your intention aloud.
  • As you blow out the candle, thank Spirit for helping you forgive and move on.

In this potent new moon time, let’s choose to consciously let go of past troubles and mistakes. Let’s “lighten up” so we can move joyfully out into the world, radiating our beautiful inner light.

☾ ☽