Happy Lammas! August 1 marks the mid-point of the summer and the beginning of the harvest season. For the ancient Celts the holiday, called Lughnasa (loo-nə-sə), after the Celtic god, Lugh (loo) who dedicated the day to his mother Tailtiu (til-too), was the most festive celebration of the year. Fairs were held on hilltops–round like the earth mother’s belly–from which the surrounding fields bursting with grain could be seen. At these celebrations the first fruits of the harvest were blessed, bilberries picked, athletic contests held, business transactions negotiated, and marriages arranged. A couple could agree to a trial marriage for one year by joining hands through a hole in a large stone or a wall. If all went well, the bond was solemnized the next year, if not, the bond was dissolved.
Although for many of us August is a time for vacationing, for farmers and gardeners it is also the beginning of a heavy work season. In terms of the human life span, Lammas represents the energetic years of our 30s and 40s dedicated to establishing careers and families. It represents a time when we are so caught up in accomplishing tasks that there is little time for reflection. We feel the pressure of time at our backs and see little decrease in the mountain of work that lies ahead. I feel increasingly removed from those decades, which for me extended well into my 50s, but this summer as I retool an online course and prepare for a move, the frenetic pace of life is returning with a feeling of déjà vu.
How lovely it would be to wake up in a house overlooking the ocean with nothing particular to do for the day. It is important to take time for relaxation and renewal. It strikes me that as we age perhaps the hard work of life needs to shift from active striving in the world to cultivating spaciousness within our souls.
We may feel drawn to the eternal presence beyond the seasonal round—the profound unity of the One in which life and death commingle. What a lot of learning, living, joy and sorrow we have experienced to bring us to this place in our lives. Yet the way forward maybe to let go, rather than to cling to comfortable patterns of what has been. Perhaps we are called to release what no longer serves our growth and transform. Perhaps the goal of life is not only to fully live but also to fully let go.
Paradoxically the more we can accept our limitations, the more we can accept with joy all the helping hands around us and feel connected to the larger community.There is a limit to what any one of us alone can harvest. True abundance comes through sharing. What have you learned from others that you appreciate? What legacy do you hope to pass on?
Lammas Eve, is my late husband’s birthday. Our marriage contract was made long ago and weathered the ups and downs of life for almost 30 years. I still hold his hand through the hole in the stone as I reach into the Mystery. The stone is the balance point between all the years of our lives that have gone before and those still to come whose edges fade into eternity.
Relax and Renew
Choose an activity that fills you with joy. Whether it is spending time with someone you love, creating art, reading in a hammock, climbing a mountain, walking along the ocean, or soaking in a warm bath, let it be something that delights your younger self. Devote at least three or four hours one day this week to indulging yourself in this favorite pastime. Celebrate the long, warm days still remaining in summer. Take in the fragrances, textures, and sounds of the living world that surround you.