Happy Lughnasadh!

Today, in much of the Northern Hemisphere, is the time of first harvests.  This has been, historically and in agrarian societies, a time of celebration and of community gathering.  It was a time for feasting and joy as all the hard work from late winter, through spring, and through a great chunk of summer has finally produced its bounty.  The long wait and the worrying is over and another crop is ready to be picked, reaped, processed and stored for the winter.

As our culture has moved to cities and urbanized we have lost connection with this process as our food is now readily available at any time of the year and we are not dependent on the growing season for our winter food supplies.  For the most part.  This year will be a bit of an exception.  The draught that we are experiencing has hit many crops with devastating effect, which is rippling out to put the ‘food chain’ in perspective for us in an immediate way.  In the US and I believe Canada and a great deal of Europe, most poultry, pork and beef comes from chicken, pigs and cows who are all fed a mainly corn diet along with large doses of hormones and vaccines to keep them healthy.  Corn has been very hard hit by the draught and is in, relatively, short supply to be shared between companies needing corn syrup (sodas, candy, most processed foods), ethanol suppliers, and ranchers.  So not only will we see a limited supply of corn flakes with ever rising prices, but the cost of beef, chicken, and pork will rise and be in limited supply.  And that means that mainstream restaurants will be raising prices too.

In Cherokee culture, we celebrate the first harvest of the season with our week-long Green Corn ceremony.  It’s a huge festival celebrating not only the new harvest, but also the fruition of all the hopes and dreams of the people.  Each house would douse their house/cooking fire which they had kept lit all year.  They would completely clean the house including disposing of all  the fireplace ashes, decorate their homes to bring new energy and a new year in, then lay a new fire.  In the center of the village the elders would be lighting a new community fire and each household would come, light a branch from this, and carry it into the home to light the new house fire.  Community would thereby interweave their lives and create community spirit.  The village would be cleaned and repaired and the week would be spent in feasting and celebration.  Old arguments would be settled and forgiven, complaints would be heard by the elders and adjudicated, and the community would settle for the next two months of bounty and pleasure and even some leisure.

This year I’m thinking Lughnasadh, or for me Green Corn, is a good time to take a break from all the doing, get back in touch with how my life is affected by nature and the seasons, be thankful for all the bounty that is coming my way, be aware and responsive to the bounty that isn’t going to be here this winter, and think about what I want the rest of the year to be like. Time to evaluate the harvest that I’m now ready to reap from all the hard work I have put in these past 7 months, enjoy the fruits of my labor, and look forward to an abundant fall.  I might even take some time out to enjoy a bit.  How about you?