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Last year on Lughnasad I was all worked up over food.

Riffling through some old files yesterday I discovered this entry:

I’m not sure there’s a way to talk about the “First Harvest” without paying mind to the fact that there is a severe drought across the land, or that in other parts of the country there is great flooding….

Is it possible that Neopagans (using the Bonewits definition of the term) are enacting the rituals of an earth tradition without being fully engaged as an Earth Tradition? Is it nostalgia we’re living in when we talk about “The First Harvest”?

I don’t harvest my own food. Do you know where your food comes from?

Perhaps this should be a theme of our harvest festivals. We celebrate the food we eat, and we take pause to consider how this food arrived to our table. Was it grown, picked, washed and served, or was it grown, assembled, packaged, and frozen?

The food part was a big hang up, and I had a difficult time seeing anything but the conflict between the “Old Ways,” and my total immersion in Western culture.

A few nights ago I was interviewed on The Psychic and the Witch, and toward the end of the interview I stumbled upon a different way of thinking about the holiday. It was as thought I managed to dust of the old metaphor machine in my brain, and for an instant I saw a different meaning of Lughnasad.

First, let’s acknowledge that — yes — it is good to know where your food comes from. And growing one’s own food, to whatever degree you can, provides you with a perspective on nourishment, as well a more intimate understanding of the power of the Earth Mother, which does not come from eating packaged food alone.

With all of that said, the realization that came was that I need to allow myself to look at this holiday, and perhaps the other 7 High Days, too, for its symbolic value. Metaphor is a gift religious people give ourselves, and we should use it when it serves us.

So…

Castlecraig Wheat Field, by Jrimas

The First Harvest is a time to take stock of our fields; to survey all that has grown throughout this year. Some seeds planted took root, and others did not. Some soil was better prepared, and better tended to. But, it’s undeniable that there has been change, and that change came through our hard labor, our perseverance, and on occasion, an unexpected storm.

Standing on my field, I can see a great, dynamic, living community around me. We share our voices, and we work to support one another as best we can. Since this time last year Bishop In The Grove has grown into quite a healthy garden. When each of you visit and share your stories, your insights, and your inquiries, you care for our common ground.

This blog produces a healthy crop.

But Lughnasad is a time to be proud of the work you’ve done, and also to prepare — both psychologically and physically, if necessary — for a slowing down of things. The days will get shorter and colder before long, and we must prepare ourselves by setting some things aside, yes?

But here’s where the metaphor gets complicated for me. I’d like to get some feedback from you.

“Taking stock of the fruits of our labor” is not difficult for me to wrap my mind around. I understand how that agricultural language can speak to matters of my personal productivity, innovation, creativity, and dedication to my path.

But preparing for winter? How do we, metaphorically, set things aside? Is there a pantry in our heart or mind where we can store jars of canned goodies, and if so, what do we keep in those jars?

How do we prepare, metaphorically, for the slower, colder days of Winter?