I stood in circle on the flat hill just below the Long Man of Wilmington yesterday with about 60 other people to celebrate the first harvest of Lughnasadh. The Weald stretched out below and the land was a tapestry of green and gold, whilst a combine harvester moved its way lazily across one of the fields. John Barleycorn falling before our eyes.
Someone spoke for the Sun, the Eye of Bel, the constant bringer of day and the changing seasons, without the Sun there would be no harvest. Someone spoke for the Element of Water, the rain that brings forth life. Without the rain there would be no harvest. Someone spoke for the Spirit of Albion, the land herself, of the changes through millennia, reminding us that we are also a part of her harvest. Without the Land there would be no harvest. Someone spoke as John Barleycorn, the Spirit of the Fields, the God who was held within the womb of the land, who was reborn, grew in strength, green and strong at the Solstice, but now bends his head, offers his neck, and falls to the blade. As the Spirit of Albion symbolically cut the neck of the corn, so his hands opened and spilled seed upon the land, to lay fallow during the winter, and be reborn once more.
His time is done, and his feet now tread the Halls of Annwn.
Lughnasadh is always emotional. It feels like the ultimate culmination of the Wheel.
Everything leads to that moment.
And now it’s done.
When we observe and celebrate the Pagan Wheel of the Year our lives can often fall in sync with its ebbs and flows. Ours is doing that right now. Today the scaffolding is going up for big changes on our little bungalow. A loft conversion and changes to the ground floor too. To facilitate that we are having to empty the loft. Lofts are strange spaces. They collect all of the things that one day might be useful, but often these things just stay there. There are boxes in the loft that hold things I haven’t seen for over 16 years, and it’s been cathartic, and deeply moving to see them once more. Most of them will make their way to charity shops, others to recycling, some sadly to the local amenity tip. If I haven’t needed something for 16 years it’s highly likely that I’m not going to need it at all.
Cerri and I held a little ritual in the garden on Friday. We thanked the house for holding us over the years, for keeping us safe. For seeing us through many changes. Once the work is done our little bungalow will be a house, and it will never be the same again. We just wanted to thank it, and show it some love, before the builders arrive with their hammers and saws. Once it’s done there will doubtless be a house warming party. Our last was Imbolc 2001 when we first moved in.
Lughnasadh is the perfect time for it all to begin.