Yesterday we gathered with our friends to celebrate the first of the Harvest holidays. To be honest, this is the Sabbat I have always had a hardest time feeling particularly spiritual for. The Solstices and Equinoxes are easiest for me because they are, even in a climate with no traditional seasons, very obvious to me. One celebrates the passage of time, the symbols of the seasons with each turn. The four other Sabbats are a little more gray to me, and Lammas the hardest to grasp. It is, after all, about enjoying the harvest and I feel so very removed from that here in my city life with no garden of my own to harvest from. To add to the alienness of it, we here in this area of the world will be enjoying (?) hot, dry, summery weather for another two months at least – the harvest feels a very long way away. It is not enough for me to simply follow traditions – I need more from spiritual practices. I have left behind bland organized religion to wander into this Pagan world where my spirit FEELS things now.
But the way my friend explained it this time, and the way she led our ceremony helped my heart to grasp the meaning. It is not, she said, simply about the harvest – but about what we do with the harvest. We make the bread, we make the wine (in our case, grape juice), it is about the work we, as humans, put into it. It is also a time of play – and that feels so right here at this hot time of summer. In a way, to me, this time of year feels similarly to how the ancients must have viewed winter – we still have two months of this? So to consider this a time to relax and simply to enjoy life takes the pressure off trying to endure the heat. It is a time where we (or just me?) slows down, where I wait for life to begin again in the coolness of our local winter.
In other words, the holiday has come to heave deeper meaning than I ever expected for me, this city girl so far removed from the harvest. And so I will make bread, and I will offer it to my friends and family and to the Earth, and I will play and enjoy this quiet time of life before the Cycle begins again.