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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in agriculture
Frau Harke, Goddess of the First Harvest

Around Lughnasadh or soon after, I saw my first mourning dove at our Appalachian farmhouse. We’ve lived here since March, and while I’ve seen blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, falcons, crows, and more, mourning doves were conspicuously absent. And then there it was on our white post-and-rail fence. The next day, I saw another, and then more appeared in the bushes and trees over the next weeks. This morning, there were five perched on the fence, observing me as I let out our dog.

I think of Frau Harke when I see them, thanks to Jacob Grimm, who wrote in Teutonic Mythology that "Harke flies through the air in the shape of a dove, making the fields fruitful” (Vol. 4, p.1364). Harke is a giantess of German folklore in the Brandenburg and Thuringia regions. Her name means “to rake,” calling to mind the harvest and care of the earth. While usually a dweller of wild mountain forests, she does travel about during her holy days, like other goddesses of her type. Folklorist Benjamin Thorpe wrote that "At Heteborn, when the flax was not housed at Bartholomew-tide [August 24], it was formerly the saying, 'Frau Harke will come'” (142).

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Reweaving the Reft in Time

The ancient Greeks dated years from the (mythic) foundation of the Olympic Games.

The ancient Romans dated years from the (mythic) foundation of the city of Rome.

We, however, date our years from the (mythic) birth of Christ.

Call it “Common Era” if you like, but clearly we need a more fitting way to count sacred time. We need some other pivotal mythic event from which to number our years.

For my pentacles, the best proposal to date comes from Merlin Stone's seminal 1979 essay “9980: Repairing the Time Warp,” in which she proposes that we date our old-new year-count from the beginning of agriculture.

For better and for worse, agriculture has changed everything that came after it. It's an event of both historic and mythic proportion. Better yet, it's something that we all share.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Interesting idea, and perhaps impractical for actual use, however interesting all the same.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Well, since all dating systems are, in effect, arbitrary, I suppose some would recalibrate their calendar in the wake of new archa
  • Kayly
    Kayly says #
    But the changing dates are the problem. If we set our current year as 12,017 and in ten years, they find that agriculture is 10,0
Pagan News Beagle: Earthy Thursday, March 30 2017

Astrobiologists take heed of new discoveries about Earth's primordial past. Ice levels in the arctic fall alarmingly low. And the debate over Pluto's status continues. It's Earthy Thursday, our segment on science and Earth-related news. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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The Clay Ladies in Winter

Now they stand knee-deep in the good, tilled earth of our gardens and fields, bestowing their gift of fruitfulness, as they have since the end of the last Great Ice.

 

Call them the Clay Ladies.

 

But come winter, what then?

 

To ask is to know.

 

Of course the Mothers do not stand in the fields all winter long, buried in snow.

 

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Pagan News Beagle: Earthy Thursday, May 19

Scientists debut a new agricultural technique to boost food yields. Suburbs look to add communal farms to their design. And comedian John Oliver takes down the way the media often deals with science. It's Earthy Thursday, our weekly segment on science and Earth-related news! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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Goodman's Croft

In Scotland, they call it the Goodman's Croft: the little corner of unplowed land that you leave in every field.

The Goodman, of course, is the Devil. Well, we know Who that is.

A croft is a farm, especially a small one. So the Devil's half-acre is land left wild, sacrosanct. The Wild is his field, as the deer are his cattle.

Plow if you must, but leave some for the wild. It's ancient tradition and soundest ecology, both.

The custom lives on here in the secular US Midwest. You'll notice that lots of fields have one lone tree standing in them, often with a cairn beneath. In any traditional society, you'd look at this and say: field shrine.

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Pagan News Beagle: Earthy Thursday, April 21

New evidence sheds light on the extinction of (non-avian) dinosaurs. Astronomer Phil Plait takes a look at a so-called "rogue planet." And history remembers the "rocket girls," women who worked on NASA's early rocketry programs and forged the way to space travel. It's Earthy Thursday, our weekly segment on science and Earth-related news! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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