Tuesday, August 6, 2013

All That Falls Shall Rise Again

English: After the harvest
English: After the harvest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm struggling to come up with a good introduction to the celebration of Lammas, or Lughnasadh, the festival of the first harvest. I can look out my window at green mountains and catch a glimpse of the lake to the east, but there is nary a wheat field to be seen. Perhaps the Champlain Valley boasts some, but here in the mountains we're lucky to find a flat patch for a vegetable garden. With it's short growing season and rocky soil, the Adirondacks is not the best place to get in touch with the agricultural festival cycle of our European ancestors.

Not that suburban New Jersey was much better. There Lughnasadh, which honored the harvest of grains, was excuse to drink beer and barbecue burgers. We often planned a middle of summer gathering to catch up with friends, and drink beer. And eat tomatoes. I bet most of our guests had never heard of Lugh, the Celtic Sun King. That's okay, because, while I knew about the festival, I didn't get it.

While preparing for the yoga studio's monthly New Moon Circle, I had the opportunity to dig deeper into the idea of the first harvest and started to see how I harvest things in my own life. There is a cycle to manifesting. I have an idea, I cultivate that idea, it grows, then it comes into fullness. I create something wonderful and enjoy the abundance it provides.

Except when it doesn't.

This year, thanks to marauding grasshoppers, my vegetable garden is doing poorly. After gathering barely enough peas for one meal, I had to admit that the plants were spent, pulled them out and turned over the bed. Sometimes things don't turn out like I planned.

Sometimes I cultivate an idea and it doesn't make it to fruition. Sometimes things that were providing abundance reach the end of their cycle and they have nothing left to give me. Sometimes I have to step back and decide if what I'm tending has any more potential or if, like the peas, it's spent.

In looking at what I'm trying to manifest, I realized  how scary the harvest must have been for those agricultural folks. Since they were unable to grow grain in the winter, there came a point every year when the grain had to be cut. It didn't matter if the grain hadn't fully grown. It was ready then, or not at all. There had to be some tough winters, when all that got them through was the hope that next year's harvest would be better. The following spring they'd be thinner, but they'd go out and plant the seeds again.

This year, in honor of the first harvest, I've been taking a look at my life and deciding what I should still nourish, and what I should let go. I've realized that neither my mind or my body are benefiting from running this year, so I dumped my marathon plan. I admitted that most of the summer workshops I planned at the studio aren't filling up, so next summer I will only be offering regular yoga classes at the studio, leaving me some time to enjoy the sunny days. I've dropped some volunteer work that wasn't feeding my soul.

What's interesting is that, as I cut these things, new ideas have been popping up. I see opportunities to plant something new, or just a bit different. It's a cycle, after all. After winter, there's always hope for new growth.

It's in the words of a neo-Pagan chant that's often heard at Lughnasadh:

Hoof and horn, hoof and horn,
All that dies shall be reborn.
Corn and grain, corn and grain,
All that falls shall rise again.

You can listen and watch a group performing the chant here. Don't you just want to get up and dance? I, for one, am left feeling hopeful.

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