This week’s theme of the spiritual in farming comes at a perfect point in time, as today we are entering the first day of fall, the Autumnal Equinox, when the day and night is equal and we move into a phase of increasing darkness. In the Northern Hem-
isphere, this marks the time when summer turns to fall, and symbolically marks the time when the fruits have been harvested and the attention is turned back to the earth itself, back to the soil, where microbes are turning the fallen fruit and leaves into fertility for the next cycle. This is the time to focus on building the roots, to nourish in darkness, and to give gratitude for the previous cycle’s harvest abundance.
The patterns of lightness and darkness was noted in traditional cultures around the world and many societies throughout time have celebrated the points around the cycle of the seasons. The northern hemisphere’s autumnal equinox has been celebrated as the harvest festival, where the gods and goddess of agriculture are invoked.
The Chumash tribe of Southern California, celebrate the fall harvest festival with gifts on harvested goods to honor the Earth Goddess (link to source).
Traditional Christians celebrate Michaelmas around the time of the fall equinox with a feast of a goose fed from the remnants of a harvested field (link to source).
Ancient Greeks celebrated their wine harvest by invoking Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, who mourns her daughter Persophone’s fate of 6 months in Hades by causing the crops to lose their vigor and brings the time of harvest (link to source).
Many people still celebrate this time of year either as an authentic continuance of their culture or as a rekindling of relationship to earth’s cycles. Modern pagan or Wiccan people call this time holiday Mabon and reflect on the seeds that were planted in the spring and the fruits that came from those efforts. The seeds and fruit can be symbolic of day to day actions or a literal harvest, but acknowledge the importance of nature, cycles, and abundance that come with the seasons in our lives (link to source).
A poem from Mother Goose summaries the the gratitude that comes from the harvest this time of year,
We have sown, we have tended
We have grown, we have gathered
We have reaped a good harvest
Lady, we thank you for your gifts
Lord, we thank you for your bounty
I thank you for [fill in yourself].
From the School of the Seasons.
In the European wheel of the year pictured above, many of the celestial holidays are represented by the crops that were abundant at that time of year. This shows the importance of agriculture, food and cultivation to people across cultures and time and place.
In a time when weather patterns and seasons are shifting, what does it mean to hold onto our connection to our ancestral knowledge and wisdoms imbedded in the cycles of the year?