It’s time for another High Day essay.
This is, of course, the festival of the first harvest which Lugh instituted in honour of his mother Tailitu, but for most of my life thus far Lughnassadh was one of those festivals that I never really got particularly worked up about. Perhaps it was living in the big city and having no real connection to the cycles of the harvest; when you get all of your food from a supermarket filled year-round with produce that has been shipped from the furthest corners of the planet, it’s a bit hard to comprehend the idea of a ‘first harvest’. When those store shelves are always full, it’s hard to comprehend the idea that if there is no harvest this year, we’re all going to be very hungry.
So Lughnassadh is a festival that has only come to be truly meaningful to me since I started living in the country and seeing the grain being brought in, and having my own garden and reaping the first harvests myself. More on that in a moment, but there is another and possibly deeper reason why this festival has taken on a great significance for me in the last couple of years. As I deepen my understanding of the wheel of the year, I see it more and more as wheels within wheels.. as a microcosm and a macrocosm of smaller and larger cycles. I guess that’s just a fancy way of saying that the wheel of the year mirrors the wheel of the human life, and it just happens that in the cycle of my own life I am currently celebrating Lughnassadh.
But I shan’t bore you with my meditations on that subject. Let’s get back to talking about food. Here in Southwestern Ontario, the high day coincides almost perfectly with the first of the two big harvests, that of wheat (the second big harvest, that of corn, comes at Samhain). In the wild, the raspberries are just about done for and the blueberries are ready. In my own little garden, we are harvesting beans, peas, chard, and the first of the tomatoes. The battle against the weeds is mostly won and the battle against the pests, especially the Tomato Hornworm, has just begun. This is also the hottest, driest time of the year and making sure that the crops have enough water is an ongoing challenge. But we pray and offer to Lugh for rain, and Lugh provides.