Happy new moon in Leo; happy Mercury station; happy post-eclipse season; happy Lughnassadh!
Today is meant to be full of fiery, Martial, Leo energy, but I am not feeling it. I spent the morning feeling unfocused, and sometime in the afternoon, my physical and mental energy simply left all at once.
I wanted to have a productive evening, refresh my home, imbue it with the day’s fiery energy — but that energy eluded me, and it was all I could do to light a candle and spray some clearing spray.
Still, I got home, harvested herbs from my garden, and made Lammas bread. It’s baking now while I drink a golden beer.
I’m not Wiccan, but I do like to honor all spokes on the Wheel of the Year. They provide touchstones for staying in tune with the shifting seasons, and I like to celebrate in simple ways rooted in Old World traditions.
Lughnassadh is interesting and strange. It’s the first of three harvest festivals, this one with focus on grains. It’s bread and beer; it’s sowing and feasting. Delicious, golden treasures to be sure, yet soporific hygge foods I associate with winter. I happily embrace the carbs and comforts of this day, but I generally don’t have the vibrant summer energy.
The disconnect I feel around this holiday makes me think about my ancestors, and our collective ancestors, and the meaning of feast days in general. For most of us in the modern Western world, holidays are tradition, ritual, and symbolism. They can be meaningful and powerful, but sometimes we might trudge wearily through the motions. We might light a candle, pour a relevant libation, and call it good. In particularly busy or stressful times, we can just forget them altogether.
For our ancestors, these days would have been both more commonplace and more meaningful. The feasts didn’t symbolize harvests; you didn’t pop into your herb garden and combine whatever was doing well with storebought bread ingredients. You were honoring a true harvest. You were feasting on the fruits of your labor to nourish yourself after tending to the earth.
Not everyone was agrarian, of course, but if you go back for enough, to when seasons and harvests were the primary focus of all or most holidays, you knew the source of your food. You knew the person who cultivated it, and in many cases, that person was you or someone in your household.
Now you can zone out watching spooky things on Hulu after begrudgingly throwing together a cheesy herb bread.
I imagine my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-+++-grandmothers in Europe, baking and brewing and preparing seasonal feasts because that’s what was done. I wonder if they felt excitement, or exhaustion, or gratitude, or boredom, or a little bit of all of it. I feel both grateful for my freedom and sad at my distance from the simple and sacred lifestyle that was so intrinsically tied to the earth, the seasons, the natural cycles of flora and fauna.
Our lives are easier today, but on days like an exhausted Lughnassadh, I’m reminded that for each advancement throughout history, we’ve paid some price. On days like this, I get dirt beneath my fingernails and smell and taste the delightful plants I’ve grown from seed or seedling, but which I could have just as easily bought in plastic cases if my harvest had gone awry. I’m lucky, and yet I wonder if I can ever truly understand absolute gratitude. I wonder if I even comprehend my own passions.