Cat Treadwell — professional Druid and nature-mystic - gives us a perspective from the English countryside.
Today is Lammas-tide, Lughnasadh, the festival of the grain harvest. Across the land, fields full of golden wheat, barley and numerous others have been growing tall, a feast for the eyes as they bend in the breeze, a feast for the birds, bees, mice and other creatures that run between the rows.
In centuries past, it would be entire communities who came out to help with the harvest, threshing, binding and preparing the crop to last them the winter. Fuel is needed for heat, nourishment and sustenance for livestock - without a successful harvest, a lean winter means walking the path between life and death.
These days, it's more the rumble of heavy-duty farming machinery at work that is heard as the harvest is gathered in - but it's no less valuable for that. Despite the knowledge that we can import food, fuel and whatever we need from other places, there's still the essential connection between us and the land as personified in the life of our fuel-stuffs. We celebrate it, we recognise and remember it. Children make corn-dollies, singers remember John Barleycorn.
In recent years, the harvest has suffered from the changeable weather conditions around the world. The price of bread rose as a result of the poor harvest in Russia. This year, it still remains to be seen how successful the yield is - while the root crops may have drowned, the fruit trees may have done well. This is the work of August and September, setting the store with what we have.
Not all of us live in close proximity to the fields. Few of us have a direct hand in the production of what feeds us physically. But that doesn't mean we can ignore the harvest.
What fuels you, day-to-day? What nourishes you, keeps you warm and happy, keeps you going? Not just food and drink - creativity, inspiration.
What is your Harvest this year? What have you sown that you are now reaping? Was it as you anticipated, following your intentions as set last Samhain or New Year? Or (more likely) was it unexpected bounty, after various unforeseen stumbles along the way? What more have you yet to come?
We're not at winter yet. That's the rest time, when you can relax and hibernate a little from the workload. For now, there's still more to do.
Identify what your harvest is, what you know deep-down will sustain you over the winter. What will keep you sane and grounded while the household goes mad at Yuletide? What will keep you warm and happy when snowed in and freezing? Whether harvested from the work of others or created yourself, now is the time to explore, to walk the rows of your own needs and honour your accomplishments.
The nights are already drawing in - we don't have long. Today we celebrate, but tomorrow: back to work. Is that work sustaining or draining? It may be hard, but is it worth it? And if necessary, how can you correct your course?
Blessings of the Harvest, my friends. May you be nourished by your work and inspired as you walk your path.
Sunset over one of the many fields near my home in Derbyshire
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