Sunday, August 3, 2014

Lammas, Lughnasadh, and Celebrating Your Personal Harvest

This week (in the Northern Hemisphere) is the celebration of Lughnasadh or Lammas, depending upon your particular flavor of Wicca.  And it is a cross-quarter day between the Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox.  

Ok, we’ll do a quick tangent here for folks who may not know the difference:

Lughnasadh is the Gaelic holy day.  Typically considered to be a celebration of the God Lugh (hence Lughnasadh), it was actually a day of games and celebrations for the first harvest in honor of his mother, Tailtu.

Lammas has its origins in more Anglo-Saxon tradition, and is also a celebration of the first harvest.  Loaves of bread were baked and used in blessings or charms.

It is also one of the cross-quarter days, a day that marks the exact middle point between a Solstice and Equinox (and as such actually floats a little year to year).

Regardless of the name, the overall theme of this holy day is the Harvest, and is the first of three harvest festivals.  For the ancient Pagans, it marked the time of the first Harvest, the first reaping.  It is a recognition of the hard work of the growing season, the sacrifice of feeding the tribe, and of gratitude.

Most of us aren’t involved in growing and feeding a tribe anymore, and our seasons vary drastically from the lands of our ancestors.  Yet, there is still something that seems to beat at the core of our experience and seeks to align with these ancient cycles, thus we can relate on some meta or archetypal level.

For me, the period of the First Harvest often brings some regret.  The prime planting and growing season is done and it’s time to reap what we have sown. (Am I the only one that always cringes a little and thinks “oh, sh*t” at that statement?)  I think about all the things I didn’t get around to “planting”.  The projects and plans I started to think about and never got around to implementing.  I think of my big dreams and goals for my life, and then mourn another year passing by in which I didn’t accomplish All The Things.

Then I think of the things I did accomplish.  And remember that I actually did a lot of amazing things.  Some of them I had planned, some of them I didn’t.  Some of them consciously moved me towards my goals, some were a shift initiated by a Goddess.  All of them have been another step on my journey.

People that want to make a difference in the world tend to get so bogged down and overcommitted, don’t we?  We forget that every little step moves us; sometimes forward, sometimes backward or sideways, but always movement and always toward our true purpose.

I’ll do another post on goal setting, which is really just intention setting in a buzzword jacket.  But for now, I offer this exercise to celebrate the Harvest in your life:

 Celebrating Your Personal Harvest

List the goals you set for yourself this Spring (or throughout the year).

List what you accomplished, whether you set it as a goal or not.

Take a look at your two lists. Which of your goals did you accomplish?  Write them on another piece of paper.  Place those on your altar.  Flex your muscles and give yourself a pat on the back.  Brag to your friends.  Good job, you!!!

What did you accomplish that you did not set out as a goal?  Were they helpful?  Do they offer an opportunity in your life?  Write those opportunities down to consider further.  Then write those accomplishments on another piece of paper, and also place them on your altar.  Offer your gratitude to the Divine for these gifts.  You did a great job by remaining open to the mystery.  Celebrate! Toast yourself!

Now, take a close look at the remainder of your list of goals.  These are goals that you did not accomplish.  Do they still apply?  Are they reasonable?  Do you want to continue to work toward them?  If not, now is the time to let them go, so you are not carrying the additional burden into the dark of the year.  Write the things you want to let go of on a piece of paper, and magically release them however feels appropriate to you.  I like to offer them to a corn dolly by placing them inside, and then burning the corn dolly.  You could bury them, burn them, compost them, offer them to the water, whatever works for you and is environmentally friendly.

Write down the goals that you are keeping.  Place them on your altar, tape them to your mirror, tuck them in your journal… just put them somewhere you will see them regularly.  Know that you can continue to work towards these goals.

Celebrate another toast to yourself, and enjoy the blessed life that you are co-creating every day!

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