Lughnasadh Thoughts

Wednesday was Lughnasadh, the ancient Celtic celebration of the beginning of the harvest. I celebrated by wading into my garden and harvesting a bumper crop of weeds. I picked wild blackberries, too, a traditional Lughnasadh food, and baked them into cornbread, another Lughnasadh staple.

I’ve begun learning about the Celtic wheel of the year and the holidays that comprise it. They make sense to me on a deep and satisfying level; instead of being determined by greeting card companies or fights between factions of the medieval Church, the old Celtic festivals follow the rhythms of the year, the Earth, the moon, spacing themselves evenly around the calendar to coincide with seasonal events and celestial patterns–solstices, equinoxes, longest and shortest days, planting and harvest, surge and retreat. While the American calendar feels frontloaded–New Year’s, Valentine’s, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and then no major candy-bearing holidays until Halloween–the evenness of the Celtic holidays is soothing, predictable (nothing falls on the first Thursday after the first Tuesday or any of that nonsense).

It’s lovely to have something to celebrate in August. Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, falls on September 21, right when the school year has cranked itself up to full speed and is taking no prisoners. It seems like a good time to pause and take stock, to ground oneself back in the natural world.

The older I get, the more I appreciate just how much I need that grounding, that connection. I grow weary of the calendar, with its grid of squares. Time has no such sharp corners, tidy lines, constraining little boxes. Time is vast and infinite and imaginary and now.

Soon the harvest will begin here in earnest. There will be beans and tomatoes to can, grapes to steam for juice and jelly. There will be carrots and potatoes to dig, and then a garden to put to bed for the winter. I like the idea of pausing now, of a deep slow breath before the chaos of summer’s bounty fully arrives. Time to think, reflect, be thankful, anticipate.

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