As the Sun weakens and days grow shorter, my thoughts drift to the autumn harvest. A time of great sacrifice. Sacrifice means to perform a sacred rite; surrendering something to gain an object of greater desire. Oddly enough, a phrase from the movie Wicker Man comes to mind; May Morrison talking to Sergeant Howie, “You'll simply never understand the true nature of sacrifice.” This quote rings true. As a society we are disconnected from the land and out of step with nature. We want to hold onto everything, letting go of nothing.
Natural law is NOT loving or cruel, its nature is to equalize. For every win a loss. The universe is in perpetual motion, constantly adjusting itself. Automatically, making right what is wronged. Keeping dark and light in balance.
We witness the eternal balancing act through the strength and weakness of solar cycles. Each cycle being one year. In earth based spirituality, we refer to the Solar year as Sabbats. Each Sabbat is very important as it marks a time of solar change in the sky, earth and us. Of eight Sabbats, three are harvest festivals and sacrificial by nature:
First, Lughnasadh, the culling of grain. Known as John Barleycorn, the God of the fields, his death gives life by providing breads and beer. This celebration highlights the abundance of crops and brings us close to the earth.
Second, Mabon, the harvesting of fruits and vegetables. At this time, fruits are dried and stored, grapes are turned to wine and animals fattened for late autumn. Well, known as “Thanksgiving”. During this harvest, we deepen our connection to community and give to those in need.
Third, Samhain, the slaughter of animals. Meats are dried and cured for the fast approaching winter months. At this time, we are moved into our heart and home, reverencing our family and ancestors who have crossed the veils. At Samhain, the sun is very weak and yet our inner light is bright. Samhain is the end of the solar cycle in earth based practice. The last sacrifice before the conception of light at Winter Solstice.
Each sacrifice made, offers us something needed for survival. Ultimately, improving our lot in life, so why do we refuse to let go? Why do we expect nature to sacrifice for us, but we do not return the gift?
Sacrifice from a modern perspective:
A few years ago, there was a fabulous outfit in the window of an upscale store. A must have, worn once. Four years later, it doesn't fit. The outfit is classic and could do well if given away. This outfit remains tucked away in the closet, while the mind is plagued with spiraling thoughts; I paid so much money for it, I’ll wear it again when I can get into it, I’ll use the fabric, I just cant let go. In the meantime, someone is desperately looking for a decent cheap outfit for a job interview.
Natural law dictates the grapes on the vine will eventually wither and die. If nature paused to reason whether or not to share it’s bounty, it’s purpose would change, but not the outcome of the grape. The grape will die. If the grape is harvested early, it will be bitter, great for Chardonnay. Late season, it is sweet, great for Liquor. If the plant remains unattended, and does not share its crop, it will become manure and eventually die in it’s own excrement. Most will agree, it’s far more enjoyable to indulge a fine wine than to shovel shit.
The sacrifice of letting go, results in an act of giving which leaves the giver open to receiving. Do you see the cyclic pattern?
The universe is always moving, sacrifice is natural law. Quit whining, adopt an attitude o gratitude, in harmony with your pagan beliefs and LET IT GO!
Wishing you a beautiful Harvest Season.