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Lughnassadh is to me a celebration of legacy. The grain falls and we remember what is important; life, love, survival, and memory. The grain is the blessing of the gods to their people, a chance for the future. On this day, I look at my impact and my legacy. What is the grain of my life? Will my actions sustain my generation and future generations to come?
Although many celebrate the First Harvest as the darkening time of looking back and giving thanks, I like to keep the focus on the work that must still be done. Gratitude is something I weave into my daily practice every day of the year so what is seen as "harvest" is more about looking forward than back, in my work. In western Europe, this is quite a busy time for farmers rushing to get as much done as possible to stretch the crop as long as possible. It is a mad dash to create a legacy of abundance that will last through the truly dark winter months. Nothing "stops."
As a Pagan and spiritual activist, it's important to me that I make an impact with the precious time I have while blessed with this physical body. Lughnassadh reminds me of this. Time is slipping away, but there is still enough to do something, to change something. The average age of death for the majority of men in the United States is currently 75 years old. I just turned 26 which means that if I am to be a statistic, I would be past one-third of my life already! I believe that the work I do right now matters just as much as the work I will do when I am 50 years old or 74 and a half years old. And who knows, I could walk out my door for lunch and get hit by a bus. A witch bows to no one, including time itself. But with that power comes the responsibility of knowing that the time we do have echoes forever onward.
The grain of my life is my legacy. Legacy in the overculture is usually equated with either obligation or pomp. The family with a proud legacy in finance or business often burdens their children with an obligation to "respect the legacy" and carry on the work. And those who have little sense of self-worth accuse those who strive to create a legacy for themselves as being pompous or egocentric. "Just be quiet and work the way everyone else does. Don't make a spectacle of yourself." I also see this in the Pagan community when Pagan authors or teachers work hard to manifest their work in the world and wind up making a name for themselves in the process. We call them "ego-driven" or "just in it for the money and fame." Personally, I think questioning the legacy of another (if that work is making the world a better place in some way) is none of my business. I am concerned with me and only me in that regard, because I am the only person the gods gave me dominion over. Your legacy might be that you're an award-winning author or chef. Or it might be that you're an incredible mother. It is all important and it is all worthy and only you can judge the worth of your actions. My legacy is mine and not yours. Your legacy is yours and not mine. It's a simple concept.
The grain falls and is stored away. The storied grain is ground and turned into bread. The bread stays while the rest of the land withers away in frigid despair. the bread is what matters, not what is left behind. This is a small but important part of the mystery of the grain, the mystery of our individual legacies while here on Earth.
So after the feasting and doll making and fire jumping, take a moment to look at the grain of your life. Will you be the bread, or the dark and icy Earth?