Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Crowning the Harvest

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Now the falling of the leaves, now the shortening day:

for Summer is a-going out, and Winter's on the way.


You won't find our Autumn Evenday ritual in any Book of Shadows.

In some ways, it looks more like Thanksgiving at your mother's house.

Well, assuming your mother was Sybil Leek.

After all, this is Witches' Thanksgiving.


  Come, folks, come; come, folks, come,

and merrily roar out Harvest Home.

Harvest Home, Harvest Home,

and merrily roar out Harvest Home.


At its heart, the garlanded table, groaning with food, decked with flowers, pumpkins, squash. Around it, the standing torches, the looping strings of marigolds in their harvest colors.

In the old days, the period of the harvest was the most intensive work of the entire year: the hard, back-breaking labor of reaping a year's worth of food in a few grueling days. When finally it was over, it was time, and high time, for a party.


It's the farmer's daughter dear

brews up plenty of strong beer,

which is enough to cheer up any soul;

so we each shall drink and say,

Blessed be the happy day

when we crown the Harvest

with a flowing bowl, flowing bowl,

when we crown the Harvest

with a flowing bowl.


The Harvest Supper both begins and ends with a horn: the Harvest Horn, which used to awaken the harvesters to a day of hot Sun and sweat.


We gets up in the morn,

and we sounds the Harvest Horn,

so rise up, and don't you lag behind.


It wouldn't be a feast without singing, of course, and the harvest—being (supposedly) a secular occasion—has retained many of its old, old songs. Good, rousing, table-thumping songs, about food, hard work, the gods, and (of course) sex. Expect bawdry at the Harvest Supper. It's good luck: along with the rich food and abundant liquor, it helps the crops to grow.


Now all you young reapers, I bid you beware

of handling Jack, there's a strange power there:

for if you but touch him (it surpasses belief),

you'll soon hold a handful of Jack in the Sheaf.


Harvest Suppers are legendary for their drinking. It used to be every farmer's responsibility to see that the crew harvesting his fields was kept well-hydrated with beer. Chances are, the guy out there swinging that razor-sharp scythe had a pretty major buzz on. Yikes.


The work is hard, the Sun is hot,

it's hard to keep your balance:

especially in the afternoon,

when you've had several gallons.


You'd think that after all that hard work, eating, and drinking, people would be too tired and weighted down to dance.

Perish the thought. It wouldn't be Harvest without the Harvest Round.


With one accord, we praise the Lord

that lies among the corn:

for he is mown and stricken

that we may be reborn.


Day and night hang in the balance, but not for long. The geese are calling overhead on their southward way. Winter is coming, and with luck, and the gods' blessing, we'll have enough to see us through.

Here's to the Harvest, folks: an Equinox of plenty to you and yours.


So here's a health to all you women,

and likewise to all you men:

we wish you health and happiness

till Harvest comes again.


Last modified on
Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


  • Haley
    Haley Wednesday, 21 September 2016

    How does the tune of this song play? I hear something akin to 'Oak, Ash and Thorne', perhaps.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Wednesday, 21 September 2016

    I've quoted from seven different songs here; there are lots of Harvest songs.
    Here's Albion Band's version of the last, The Reaphook and the Sickle.

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