The First Harvest | Lughnasadh
The Festival of Lugh is the first of three annual harvest festivals observed by the ancient Celts. The other two being the Autumnal Equinox or Mabon, and Samhain during the first week of November. Traditionally, the feast of Lugh is observed on August 1st or 2nd, but astrologically it falls on the 7th this year, precisely halfway between the Summer Solstice (Litha) and the Fall Equinox.
I'm one of those Witches who likes to celebrate on the astrological dates rather than the traditional ones. And for me, it's the beginning of my favorite season of the year, the one that is known as the Season of the Witch. It goes from Lughnasadh to Thanksgiving. It's the harvest season, and even among muggles, is the season of gratitude and appreciation.
Gratitude vs Appreciation
The gratitude is the "thanks" part of the energy of this time. The expression of gratefulness, however, can only come after a period of appreciation. Appreciation is the act of noticing and basking in what we have. We can't properly express our thanks for something until we've experienced its true value to us. Until, that is, we've basked in it. Appreciation has that second meaning in the dictionary: To increase in value. When we have a gorgeous sunset every night, but never watch it, we have not appreciated it at all. How much more valuable is that sunset to us when we bask in it. When we stop what we are doing and put the phone down and sit and just bathe in the beauty of that sunset. That is true appreciation. First, realizing just how precious something is, and then wallowing in it for a bit.
As we make our lists of things to be thankful for this year, starting right now, let's go down that list ourselves. Let's take time to really appreciated and experience and bask and wallow in the very best things in our lives. And that way, when we give thanks for them, we know what it is we're thankful for.
Who are we thanking?
I like thinking deeply about things, so I'm thinking deeply about this. When I whisper "Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou" to whom am I speaking? Who am I thanking?
The answer to that question is probably different for every one of us.
I am giving thanks to Source Energy, which is my soul. It's that non-physical, electrical force that flows through all things and is the spark and breath of life. That which some call God.
I am giving thanks to the Earth, which is my body, and to all creation by extension. Everything manifest. Everything you can see, hear, feel, taste, or touch. Everything physical. Everything with a shape, a form. That which some call Goddess.
The Two are the sperm and the ovum, the flame and its fuel, the electricity and the wire that contains it, the rod and the chalice. These are the two energies that come together to create all life and all magic. The force and the form. And we, you and I and everyone, even the shit heads, are also force and form. Soul and body. We are God and Goddess combined and experiencing a lifetime as us. Each of us. From the two emerges a third, and the third is physical life. Our world and all the beings who inhabit it.
There's nothing I can thank that is not a part of me. And yet I thank all of it, anyway, all the various beams of Divine Light playing their parts as "individuals." All one, really. I thank every part of creation for working in such a perfect harmonic symphony to produce this beautiful experience of living. Or being. Every breath of life is the greatest of gifts.
Ritualizing our Thanks
Prayer is talking to God. Meditation is listening for the answer. I meditate "religiously." Even if I miss my morning meditation for some reason, I do it in the afternoon. But I don't pray as frequently. Prayer hasn't always seemed a very witchy thing to do, in my mind. It tends to involve kneeling and pleading, and I'm more a power-wielder than favor-asker.
But upon reflection that's a misunderstanding on my part. And that's okay, we all have them. It's only when we question our own beliefs that we grow beyond them. So how about that belief? If I am Divine energy why should I kneel? Maybe in awe of that absolute vastness of that which I truly am. Maybe in acknowledgement of how much more there is to ME than just this body, this personality, this lifetime.
If I am spirit in body, why do I have to ask for anything? It is all within my own power. I need only tune in to what I need, so why ask? Maybe because asking, gives form to the desire. It takes it from thought to thing. From a mental image to spoken words, or even projected thoughts. By putting our desires into words, we get to hone them. Just the act of choosing the words we use to describe our wishes better clarifies them and fleshes them out for us.
So prayer is one way, a very simple way, to express thanks to all the myriad expressions of the Whole.
Offerings are another way to express our gratitude. The idea is to offer something you truly value to the rest of creation. In ancient times people took this notion to some pretty messed up extremes, but you know how humans are. What I tend to value most is my time. So happily giving my time in service to other parts of creation is a way for me to express my thanks by giving back.
It needn't be formal. Everybody knows somebody who needs a hand.
A Prayer of Thanks
Thank you, Gaia
For my body, home, sustenance, wealth,
For my children, family, weather and health
Earth Mother, I am you.
Thank you, Spirit
For my consciousness, a beam of the Whole
For my life force which is also
My Higher Self, Soul
Sky Father, I am you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.....
(The last line is meant to become a whispered, repeated chant that builds and peaks and releases in a burst of gratitude.)