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Summer: Harvesting Beauty, Harvesting Magic, Harvesting Health

Posted by sirensays on August 3, 2009

Summer’s bounty often gets eclipsed by end of the school year, back to school, vacations and weather conditions. I have always felt some trepidation as the reconstructionist Neo-Pagan first harvest holiday of Lughnasadh/Lammas approaches in early August, because it’s often very hot and unpleasant enough to not want to celebrate outdoors. This year, however, it’s been lovely – warm but breezy, cloudy in the morning and with bluer skies in the afternoon, ending with a lovely sunset. These weather conditions are very kind to most plants, especially those that flower or bear fruit.

I have always thought of Lughnasadh as having three main components:

  • Harvest of Beauty
  • Harvest of Magic
  • Harvest of Health

These three components are very powerful and lyrical, separately and together. This year, I meditated on them separately and then together. My meditations were both quiet and active, working with the symbols and elements of  beauty, magic and health.

The Harvest of Beauty

Harvesting BeautyHarvesting Beauty 2

The Harvest of Beauty is so pronounced this time of year, it can make your head spin with olfactory and visual giddy loveliness. Plants blooming, shooting, bearing fruit, berries and veggies are everywhere, from people’s yards to farmer’s markets, garden supply stores and window boxes. Gardens flourishing behind gates seem to invite us with their quiet riot of sultry, secret beauty. The mysteries of  the bees, bugs and birds are excitedly on display during the summer, their worlds colliding with ours via their calls, songs, bites, births and lively adventures.

Take an evening stroll to pick up the scents of what has bloomed that day, now closed up, and what is blooming during the evening. You may be able to pick up on traces of eucalyptus, bay, evergreen, magnolia and fruit-baring trees. Jasmines and honeysuckle abound, as do blackberries and strawberries. If you don’t have a garden handy, try a community garden, rich with many burgeoning plots of fuirts, veggies and flowers.

One of the richest aspects of enjoying summer’s beauty is that most of it is free. We may be feeling appreciation of this more poignantly this year. But most parks and community gardens have no entrance fee. If you don’t have the time, money or ability to grow your own garden, ask a friend if you can enjoy theirs, or take an inexpensive picnic to the park so that you can experience the richness of this season.

The Harvest of Magic

Harvest of Magic Second ChakraHarvesting Magic Fourth ChakraMagic is tangible by the beginning of August. We all know about the magic of Midsummer, which for us is actually the Summer Solstice, the beginning of summer. Many people consider the end of July/beginning of August to be Midsummer, when so many plants are peaking, vacations are taken, and work may even have slowed down. I drew the above pictures of my second and fourth chakra for a Priestessing assignment, which feel summer strongly by the time August rolls around. They are sunny and bright, earthy and watery, with movement – expansion and contraction, spinning and dancing.

Harvesting Magic

This is a wonderful time of year to study or practice magic. Whether you love herbal, candle, crystal, elemental or ritualistic magic, or some combination thereof, Lughnasadh is a marvelous time to incorporate flowers, berries, plants, and herbs. You can sit outside and meditate or create rich, complex incenses and oils indoors, build altars to nature to get inspired by sunny days to do solar magic with candles or bonfires. Trips to bodies of water make us more appreciative of the element, even if that stream, ocean, lake or pond is too cold to dive in. Cooking magic is fun this time of year, whether you are making a magical plum jam, having a BBQ or throwing together a salad because it’s too hot to cook. It’s important to note that sometimes all the magic we need is shared laughter and an appreciation for what sustains us.

The Harvest of Health

Harvesting HealthHarvest of Health HerbsPreparing for a healthy was crucial back in the day; sometimes that meant merely surviving. Nowadays, it means continuing to thrive.  Blessedly, these days, we can buy fresh produce year round. Summer health in our modern culture focuses so much on how we look in our bathing suit. But truly, it’s a great time to buy favorite fresh produce as well as experiment with lusciously ripe offerings we haven’t tried before. Many of us are lucky to benefit from the bounty of our own gardens and the harvests of friends and family members.

In my experience, this time of the year is a great time to slow down a bit, savor the freshness of the season, share its bounty and emphasize the healthier aspects of the season, including relaxation, communing with nature, spending time with loved ones and literally stopping to smell the roses…and the basil, the cucumbers, the melons, the mint and even the ever-bountiful zucchini.

If Lughnasadh, or its more Christian counterpart, Lammas, intrigues you, remember that you can honor what it brings from now through the Autumn Equinox, when we clebrate the second harvest. Given the difficulties many of us are experiencing with the current economy. appreciating the bounty we have may make sense to you. Please remember that whether our bounty is shared, prayed over, conjured, tasted, smelled or kept to ourselves, we will hopefully be able to do so ever year, for many years to come.


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