A belated post about our Lughnasadh ceremony 31 July, which we held at our very beautiful Hearth Grove.
At our January pub social ‘2014 planning meeting’ I’d hastily volunteered to lead the Lughnasadh ceremony, as I’d had a theme bubbling away in the cauldron for a couple of years for this. This had been inspired partly from a Lammas article I’d read in Pagan Dawn back in 2011 and the Chinese Five Element cycle, which I work with as an acupuncturist.
In the wheel of the year Lughnasadh is the last Fire festival, the first harvest festival and the festival that stands at the threshold between summer and autumn. In the Pagan Dawn article, Lughnasadh was referred to as the tipping point, between the peak of summer-fire growth in all its maturity, and the time of decrease and downshifting to autumn. Lughnasadh, as summer wanes, is where the journey really begins and energetically gets interesting, as we tip from the time of increase to the time of decrease from outer focus to inner focus.
To consider this tipping point from another perspective, I also asked our Grove to temporarily suspend our usual, western tradition ritual understanding that the Earth element represents north and winter.
In Chinese philosophy there are 5 elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water) and 5 corresponding seasons. The Earth element governs and holds the energy of this time of year – Late Summer and is distinct from Summer-Fire. Earth and Late Summer is the time of bounty, abundance and harvest, as the Yang energy born in Wood-Spring and matured in Fire-Summer starts to decrease, passing its energy to Earth. Earth transforms the energy to nurture all of the elements and starts the move towards Yin and is therefore also seen as the pivot, the tipping point, the element of transition between Yang and Yin. The quality of Earth-late summer is a threshold time when Earth gives up its riches to nourish the inner part of the year. Earth is the cross-roads, mother of all elements, described in Daoist philosophy as making all change possible for all elements.
So, in our ritual, we stood at the Earth-Late Summer tipping threshold, with one foot in summer, the other stepping in to autumn. Were we ready to make that journey? For some folk, this transition to the inner, yin, reflective half of the year is more difficult to negotiate than the opposite half of the year rushing towards light and growth. But we have all the growth and energy from the summer to sustain us on this journey.
So I led our Grove through a meditative visualisation of this journey from high summer, travelling from a sunlit hillside overlooking wildflower meadows and fields of ripe corn, down in to the valley in the west, towards a fruit laden orchard, the gateway to autumn. There at the gateway we paused, before stepping across the threshold into the autumn orchard to reap our harvest and reflect on:
What were we harvesting or reaping now to feed and nourish our onward journeys?
What were we storing or laying to seed for future growth in coming seasons?
And what were we letting go of, leaving behind to decay and nourish the Earth.
A gift of rowan berries was given to everyone and a chance to share and reflect on our personal harvest. Though events had conspired to mean we held our fire-ceremony without our usual ritual fire, we made our offerings in individual ways.
We then proceeded to have our ritual feast, abundant with seasonal produce and luscious home-made cake courtesy of Strider. Alongside our usual wondrous banter and flights of fancy, there was also a sense of mystery when Locksley, once again, saw a bright, fast moving light in the Grove sky; not a plane, shooting star, or the ISS! The mystery remains for another ritual, perhaps all will be revealed when the veil thins at Samhain.