The Celtic festival of Lughnasadh, commemorates the first harvest. As the days were noticeably longer at Imbolc, they are now noticeable shorter than at Litha. The Celts started their day at sunset, so all of the Sabbats we get from them, begin the night of, and go to the next day. Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain, are all Celtic celebrations.
Lughnasadh starts the evening of August 1st, and is the Harvest of first fruits. Named for the God Lugh, it is a feast to celebrate the hopefully bountiful harvest that is just beginning. Why feast? Up until the 19th century, our ancestors didn’t know about canning, and there was no form of refrigeration. If food was to be kept long, it was more than likely dried and or salted. If you wanted to taste the freshness of the garden, you ate it now.
There was also a bit of sympathetic magick involved as well. Weather the harvest was good or poor, by feasting in large quantities, you were showing the Gods that you were confident that the food would last the Winter, and that as much or more would grow next year. It was a not so symbolic leap of faith that whatever happened this year, next year would be better.
There are still two more harvests to bring in. Everyone already knows if they are plentiful or poor, but they aren’t in yet. It will still be three months yet before the harvest is done. There is time to get done what must be done.
The harvest is symbolic of completing projects of all types. What did you plant in the Spring, and tend through the Summer to harvest this Fall? We can use the seasons to plan our projects, whatever they may be. A new job, the fertility of abundance, or simply a hobby well done. All are projects that may manifest and be harvested in the coming months.
Those projects that take less effort may be ready to harvest now. Others, needing more time may not have manifested yet, but you should be able to see when and how they will come to fruition by now. If you planned well, and took each step when you needed to, you should be close to your own personal harvest.
This is the beginning of the waning sun. Just like the moon, it waxes and wanes, it just has a longer cycle. Our own lifetime cycle is longer still, taking many turns of the wheel, but as we are drawn kicking and screaming into middle age, we still have enough light to warm our world.
Our hair has begun to gray, our bodies pop and crack in ways they didn’t used to. Infirmity is still far away, and with luck, and activity, will not happen until the very end, but now our mortality is revealed to us. We were immortal in our Spring, more experienced in our Summer. Now as Fall approaches, we remember our parents at our current age, and wonder when we got old.
In many Traditions, the God and Goddess move through the cycle of life each year. It’s not just the Gods who turn the Wheel. We also turn our Wheel, just at a slower pace. It is in the Lughnasadh of our lives that we begin to realize the folly of some of the things we did in our youth. This is what the young refer to as Wisdom, but we know it to be simple experience.
The smarter among the young ask our opinion before blindly trying something new. While there is much to be said for doing something simply because you didn’t know it was impossible, the experience of life allows us to recognize the value of patience. Knowing when not to do something, is just as valuable as knowing when to do it.
We are the leaders of our community, not yet ready to step down. We may not have the energy we once did, but we’ve learned how to best use what energy we have. We allow the up and coming younger generation to lift that bail, and tote that barge. We look at the bigger picture, and coordinate and organize, to ensure the plans are followed correctly.
Lughnasadh hasn’t forgotten what it was like to be young, and still feels that way, most of the time. The wisdom of experience, tempers the impulse to try every new thing. The realization of mortality, and the surety of slower recovery from injury, makes it more cautious than in youth, but the years of practice reduce much of the risk.
The year is well into middle age. The lesson it teaches us is to do things now, not later. All those goals and dreams you had when you were young, and still have today, but plan to do someday, when you have the time and the money? Do them now. Don’t wait for someday to come.
That trip of a lifetime to a foreign land, that business idea, that dream home, do them now, while you’re still young enough and strong enough to really enjoy them. You may have the time and the money later, or you may not, but you will not have the physical ability to do then, the things you can do today. In youth, we are fearless, because experience hasn’t taught us better. There’s still time, before experience tricks us into focusing on what we can’t do.
Live life to the fullest now. Plan ahead, but don’t allow yourself to get bogged down by the daily grind. Feast on your current abundance, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Yes, there’s still a lot of work yet to do, and you’ll want to save for the future, so that you’re never without, but take some time for yourself to recharge, before tackling what’s to come.
This is the lesson of Lughnasadh.