Honoring the Great Mother and Her Harvest

Warm greetings from your Editors, Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry.

Dear friends – August 1 and 2 we celebrate the ancient Festival of the Wheat Harvest known as Lammas, or Loaf-Mass Day, the sacred cross quarter day between the Summer Solstice & Autumn Equinox when the Mother returns the first fruits of the year’s harvests to come.

The Celts celebrate this Summer Festival from sunset August 1 until sunset August 2 and call it “Lughnasad” after the God Lugh. This is the Festival commemorating the wake of Lugh, the Sun-King, whose light begins to dwindle after the summer solstice.

Here in the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina, where we live, the corn in farms and vegetable gardens has tasseled and many varieties of tomatoes, small and large, golden and red, round and pear-shaped, striped or not, fill the air with their characteristic mouth-watering fruity aroma. Golden banners are fluttering in the wind, fertile silks turn brown, and the beginning of the corn harvest has arrived at our tables. We give thanks for the sweet corn and for all our Mother’s bounty.

Lammas is the day to celebrate the Eternal Maiden, the Virgin Mother, the Corn Mother, the Great Earth Mother of Nourishment, our Mother of Abundance. Lammas is the day we express our gratitude that She feeds all our children. Celtic, Neo-Pagan and Christians alike light fires to celebrate the strength of summer’s incandescence and the promise the first fruits of harvest make for the community’s secure winter season.

Yet this year Lammas is a festival of mixed blessings and mixed emotions. Mother, we are grateful for our privileged lives and for the opportunities we often take for granted. Mother, we are sad and we mourn the many ways that human beings undermine their Mother’s most precious gifts of clean water, clean air, fertile soil, diverse vegetable, animal and bird brothers and sisters and the rest of the Mother’s web of creation -- the environment that has given birth to all of us and nurtures us from generation to generation. Mother, we celebrate our unity with the web of life, with your Holy Body, planet Earth.

Today we are on the brink of monumental climate change, brought about by the excesses of our industrial civilization and our excessive reliance upon a rational materialistic view of the Universe. We no longer act as humble caretakers of the Earthly garden.

We have set ourselves up as Lords of creation. We seek to control, dominate and subdue nature and measure our success by our ability to transform humanity’s shared environmental resources into wealth we seek to utterly consume in our own lifetimes without regard for the wellbeing of future generations.

We know that the sources of energy we use to fuel our global human civilization are destroying the environmental resources our children and grandchildren will depend upon for their survival. We know that we are rapidly depleting the most valuable of those resources in a global consumption binge that can only be compared in its severity and toxicity to the terminal stages of drug addiction.

We are depleting the soil, poisoning the air, polluting the oceans, and exterminating animal, bird and plant species by the thousands.

We are manufacturing new genetically modified plant species and introducing them into the environment without testing them to see if they are compatible with existing bio-systems.

We are creating cloned animals to be bred as sources of food for hungry humans without regard for the well-being of the animals, or the suitability of cloned meat for human consumption.

At the same time that the world is beset with conflicts between religious warriors representing many different spiritual traditions, including Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus, there is also an increasing environmental awareness arising among practitioners of all faiths.

Even those who adhere to fundamentalist interpretations of sacred scriptures are finding common environmental ground with more tolerant and ecumenical spiritual practitioners who honor all the wisdom school traditions of all religions.

And spiritual environmental activists are finding common ground with their secular counterparts.

Today, Mother, we celebrate the ancient wisdom school teachings of East and West that speak of the web of life, and of humanity’s responsibility to maintain that web of life intact for future generations.

Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism all provide a treasure trove of spiritual teachings on the interdependence of all living things in a web of life. This month, we offer links to lengthy articles exploring the specifics of these teachings in the newsletter below in the section on “Top Spiritual Stories from Around the Web”.

All the major religions of the world agree that humanity bears a tremendous responsibility to the Earth, our Mother, and to the future generations of human beings, plants, animals, birds, and creeping, crawling creatures inhabiting this garden planet.

All the major religions of the world agree that humanity must temper its greed, curb its rampant consumption, extend a helping hand to the more than one billion people living in extreme poverty, and radically alter the industrial lifestyle we have come to accept as normal in the last two hundred years.

Mother, today, in celebration of the ancient wisdom teachings that honor you as the Divine One, the Source of all life, we ask your blessing and your help, that we may find our way back to the path of Spirit, and that we may find the courage and strength to walk that path again, all the way to the final goal – help us in our struggle to regain our equilibrium as individuals and as a people, wounded as we are with our religious wars, our greed, our self-centered lifestyles and our short-sightedness. Mother, help us to reconnect with the ancient wisdom teachings known to humanity since prehistoric times, and celebrated at the Seasonal Festivals held in your honor each year, marking the turning points on the great Seasonal Wheel of Time.

Mother, today we celebrate the unity of the human family.

Mother, we ask your forgiveness for our destructive ways. Mother,we seek today to learn to forgive one another. Help us, Mother, to learn to love you as the old ones loved you, so that we may heal ourselves and our environment.

Here is a Lammas Poem by Jane Sherry:

Lammas Poem

I am a fish.
I walk out of the water on four legs
then two.

I grow wings
and fly to the treetops
in my Paradise.

I am black
white yellow red
brown skinned.

I am a wise woman
child snake man
frog lion insect.

As I sit in the treetops
I remember the time
of Fires of Floods of Beginnings.

I remember the Future Earth
a place of Balance
Breath Harmony Water & Fire.

I am my country
your town
our grandchildren.

I am the cloud
that rains on desert,
the river that runs to sea.

I am the peace
that rules
at the Heart
of all things.

Meditation Moment: The Road Home

The Road Home

An ant hurries along a threshing floor
with its wheat grain, moving between huge stacks
of wheat, not knowing the abundance
all around. It thinks its one grain
is all there is to love.

So we choose a tiny seed to be devoted to.
This body, one path or one teacher.
Look wider and farther.

The essence of every human being can see,
and what the essence-eye takes in,
the being becomes. Saturn. Solomon!

The ocean pours through a jar,
and you might say it swims inside
the fish! This mystery gives peace to
your longing and makes the road home home.

(translated by Coleman Barks)

Photo Credits: All photos except the wheat are from Curtis & Jane's 2007 Summer Garden.

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