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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Harvest Home

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Witches' Thanksgiving: An Invocation

On this Equinox Day, a guest post by longtime Minneapolis priestess and liturgist Magenta Griffith: a Harvest Invocation first delivered at our coven's 40th Annual Harvest Supper last night.

After the invocation, those around the table chimed in, thanking specifically the lives that came to an end for the sake of our feast: “Thank you, lamb!” “Thank you, cabbage!” (The onions, of course, got a big cheer.)

It ends with a toast, and the feast begins: Witches' Thanksgiving, 2019.

 

Harvest Invocation 2019

 

Life feeds on life, life feeds on death

And some will die so all might eat

Greens are pulled alive from earth

Wheat is scythed to make our bread

Beans are boiled that we might feast

Grapes when crushed become our wine

Spuds are dug to make our soup

Barley roasts to make our beer

Eggs are taken from their hens

Cows are robbed to make our cheese

Cider comes from apples pressed

Sweetness comes from looting hives

Corn is ground to make our meal

We shall someday change into soil

And so the circle turns.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Joan Sugarbeet Must Die

As always, we'll be singing this one just before the dessert course tonight at our Harvest Supper, courtesy of (who else?) those incomparable satirists of British folk idiom, the Kipper Family.

You can sing it to the standard Traffic John Barleycorn tune, but up the tempo some and think “cheerful” instead. And if you happen to have a squeezebox or accordion to accompany it, so much the better.

Joy of the Harvest to you and yours.

 

Joan Sugarbeet

 

There was three men come out of the East, their fortunes for to try;

and these three men made a solemn vow: Joan Sugarbeet must die.

They've plowed, they've sown, they've harrowed her in, threw clods upon her head;

and these three men made a solemn vow: Joan Sugarbeet was dead.

 

They let her lie for a very long time, till the rains from Heaven did fall:

then little Lady Joan sprung up her head, and so amazed them all.

They let her lie till Midwinter, till she looked both flaccid and green:

then little lady Joan, she grew a big bottom, and so became a queen.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Here's a nasty little piece of pagan satire along such lines. Some things deserve to be remembered. Down we go to the world below
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Sign me up on the list, lease!
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    Once, back in the 90s, I made a comedy song tape of Pagan songs and chants, called "The Carcrashic Records". Someday I hope to col

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Urban Procession: Harvest Moon

I hear the procession before I see it.

They enter in at the front gate, with rattle and drum. I join them, and together we wind around the house and back to the garden.

All summer the little goddess has presided over the growth of tomatoes, eggplant, beans, beets, kale, and collards, sunk to her knees in the ground.

Now we stand her instead in a bowl of wheat grains, wheat that we will eat (cooked in almond milk, sweetened with honey, perfumed with rosewater) on the year's longest night. We garland her with harvest marigolds.

Lastly, we cover her over with the same veil of night-blue silk that will enwrap her through her winter slumber in the pantry. We're about to process her down a public street, on which she will duly bestow her blessing, but this is, after all, a goddess: not everyone is privileged to see her.

The procession reforms. I walk this street every day of my life; tonight it becomes a sacred route, a processional way. People arriving for choir rehearsal at the corner church stop to watch.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Corn Dollies: A Harvest Tradition

Since I can remember, my mom has had two small corn husk dolls. I’m not sure where or why she got them, but it was before I was born, so they’ve always been there, through all my family’s moves from city to city, country to country. Even now, they’re nestled among other knick-knacks in the enormous Bavarian schrank my parents keep in their formal living room. They are quaint, dainty little things, and they’ve always held a kind of mystery to me that, for a long time, I couldn’t quite pin down.

As an adult, I learned that corn husk dolls originated among the Iroquois, and the tradition was picked up by European settlers who had similar traditions. In some ways, corn husk dolls are the indigenous American cognate to European corn dollies, which are usually not so much “dolls” as we think of them as they are decorative objects taking a variety of shapes: hearts, handbells, lanterns, horseshoes, to name just a handful. Another difference is that corn dollies are often made of wheat, barley, or oat sheaves, not the ears of maize used to craft corn husk dolls.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Hugh Gadarn
    Hugh Gadarn says #
    Fascinating. I find corn dollies intriguing and there are examples in early Britain. On the eve of St. Bride's day girls used to m
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    Thanks for sharing, Hugh! I love learning about the similarities and differences in corn dolly traditions across European cultures

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Come Ye Thankful People, Come

The Autumn Equinox: it's a holiday of many names.

None of them—to be perfectly honest—quite there yet, if you know what I mean.

Equinox, of course, comes from Latin: “equal night.” It has the advantage of being readily comprehensible, at least. The down side is, of course, that it's ambiguous, since it's got a twin in the spring. And somehow it's got that clinical sound to it.

Then there's Evenday. This is a modern loan-translation from the word for “equinox” in the Scandinavian languages. (Interesting that, to describe a time when day and night are of equal length, the Southrons focus on night and the Northrons on day; make of that what you will.)

“Evenday” has a nice, colloquial sound to it, and is probably relatively transparent to anyone with light behind the eyes. Interestingly, it has already developed two pronunciations, and (curiously) I find myself using both of them: Even-day and Even-dee, just like the days of the week: the formal and less formal options, respectively.

Wishing folks a “Happy Evenday” has a good sound to it, certainly. But, of course, there's still that vernal-autumnal ambiguity.

So far as we can tell, the ancient Kelts did not observe the sunsteads and evendays as holidays (focusing instead on what we would call the “Cross-Quarters”), so there were no traditional names for them in any of the Keltic languages. To rectify this situation, Druidic Revivalists in the 19th century coined Welsh names for them; the autumn evenday is now called Alban Elfed (supposedly, “Light of [the] Waters”), and the name has gained a certain currency in Druidic circles.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Ariel; the poem is the first verse of a song that we sing at the Harvest Supper every year, our version of a 19th century A
  • Ariel Aron
    Ariel Aron says #
    Nicely said I love reading your stuff. I also love the little poem.
  • Andrew
    Andrew says #
    "Usage determines correctness." No it doesn't. Pronouncing ask as arks does not make it correct no matter how many people do it,
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Given that living languages are in a constant state of change, Andrew, who then gets to decide what's correct?
  • Andrew
    Andrew says #
    Definitely not people who didn't know how to pronounce a word correctly in the first place.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Crowning the Harvest

 Now the falling of the leaves, now the shortening day:

for Summer is a-going out, and Winter's on the way.

 

You won't find our Autumn Evenday ritual in any Book of Shadows.

In some ways, it looks more like Thanksgiving at your mother's house.

Well, assuming your mother was Sybil Leek.

After all, this is Witches' Thanksgiving.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I've quoted from seven different songs here; there are lots of Harvest songs. Here's Albion Band's version of the last, The Reapho
  • Haley
    Haley says #
    How does the tune of this song play? I hear something akin to 'Oak, Ash and Thorne', perhaps.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Jack in the Sheaf

That Jack guy sure does seem to get around. First there was Jack in the Green (you can hear his song here), soon to be followed (to the same tune) by Jack in the Heap (Compost, that is) and Jack in the Drift.

Here's a harvest version that we usually sing later on at our Harvest Supper, after we've all had a few and the kids have gone to bed.

Earthy folk, pagans.

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