For those who have been following along this year, you may remember we started the year with an invitation to set our intentions for the months ahead. Then, over the course of the year, I have been sharing rituals, inspired by the celtic calendar, to help us tune into the gifts of the season and stay close to our intentions.
Tonight is Lughnasa in the Celtic Calendar- a time that signals the beginning of the harvest. And so, an offering and a gift from me to you- a short ritual for reflection on your own gifts, that you may honour them, embrace them and have the confidence to offer them outwards and onwards.
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Below, the introduction to the guide, happy reading, and savouring, and harvesting of your wonderful and important gifts.
From the Lughnasa Ritual
‘The ripening is upon us. Along the roads the blackberries are changing their form, from tight knots to full of summer swell, their juicy bulbous domes are rising for the picking. The thought of blackberries also brings thoughts of poetry, their sight is so coupled with Seamus Heaney’s remembrances that his are also my own. Moving into the memories of when ‘briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots’, ‘Blackberry Picking’, the poem, is now synonymous with blackberry picking, the act.
All year I’ve been collecting jars. What once was filled with pickle is soon to be filled with jam. I’m awaiting the days when the berries are at their best, perhaps a few weeks from now, when a day will be given over to the picking and jam-making. I’m thinking already of who I’d like to invite along and what pot I’ll use. I’m thinking of being able to give the jam-filled jars away, as gifts, and I’m thinking of the winter ahead, when a dollop of sweet jam will be added to warm porridge, to ride the winter tide with sweetness and let the gift of the harvest extend it’s time. For what is a harvest but a gathering of the gifts, in extension.
As the blackberries turn, so to does the season. We have reached another turning point on the celtic calendar,moving into Lughnasa (pronounced Lu-na-sa), a time that signals the beginning of the annual harvest. Lughnasa, a cross-quarter celebration in the celtic wheel, rests mid-way between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox and is named after the sun God Lugh, of the Tuatha De Dannan. Lugh was said to be a God of many gifts and talents, a Master of the Arts and Culture, who yielded a cunning sword and a swopping presence which harnessed the light energy of the sun.
The festival of Lughnasa (July 31- August 1) is a time to celebrate and give thanks and praise for the coming harvest, that which has been ripened by the sun, as if the dance and the joy will aid the final stages of growth and quicken the ripening. After months of tending barren soil, then tending seeds, the land now offers it’s fruits. In the offering is also the gift, and with any gift comes the invitation to rejoice. Yet how often do we see our gifts as offerings, as things to rejoice? How often do we really honour our own gifts so that they may be quickened?
Thinking of Lugh today, we might say that he was ‘gifted’. However if Lugh claimed it for himself, if he declared his own giftedness, we’d perhaps call him egotistic, or obnoxious, or a little bit full of himself! In contemporary society to honour our own gift, to really own it and to declare it, requires a confidence and a defiance. So often we dismiss the gifts we have been given, for fear of being labelled too full of ourselves, or sure of ourselves. Instead, inside we hide, keeping our gifts close, and in keeping them close we don’t reap the opportunity to share them with others.
So perhaps there are deeper lessons from the blackberries too: if they are not picked, shared and savoured- either by humans or animals, their fruit will go to rot, not serving their full potential. Similarly if we do not learn to harvest and share our own gifts, they too go underground, even to rot. And so in reclaiming the festival of Lughnasa we are also given this opportunity to reclaim and to declare our own gifts. It does not need to be a loud declaration, or even a public one, but an inward appreciation of the gifts given, from which we can share and serve, and seed the future we long to create.
So this Lughnasa, let’s take some pause to harvest and to celebrate. Let’s take time to name our gifts, claim them, declare them, so we may move outwards again, with a knowing that our gifts are also our generosity; that our gifts are our offerings, in extension’.
Sending love, onwards and outwards from my heart to yours,