Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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The Time of the Mother

We call it Lammas or Lunasa, and think of it as marking the commencement of the grain harvest.

And so indeed it does. In Western Minnesota, they're beginning the cutting of the “small grains” even as you read this.

But here in the New World, this was a festival long before the ships from Europe arrived with their sacks of seed wheat and barley.

“Green Corn,” they called it, and among many peoples, it was the greatest feasting of the year.

Maize cultivation came into Northern America from Mexico about 2000 years ago, and spread up along the river valleys. In the Upper Mississippi Valley, where I live, they've kept Green Corn for almost 1000 years now.

The sweet corn that we enjoy at our Lammas tables today—and gods know it wouldn't be August Eve without it—is a recent development. In the old days, the only time that corn could be eaten directly from the cob was while it was still immature.

Hence, “Green Corn.” It marks the very beginning of the corn harvest, and was preceded by fasting and purgation so as to be fittingly clean for the new crop.

But even before agriculture, this was still a sacred time. They say that before the Mother gave us grain, we made our bread from acorns.

And wouldn't you know it? Right now, here on the rolling oak savannahs that mark the three-went where broad-leaf forest, coniferous forest, and prairie come together, the acorns are ripe and dropping.

Back in the day, the whole tribe would have come together in the groves to gather our acorns and process them for winter eating. There would be feasts and rituals, marriages made and planned, and we'd bury the bone-bundles of that year's dead in the mounds.

Both forager and farmer keep high feast at this most sacred of times, when people come together to gather the foods that will see us through the winter to come. It's the warm, rich season of abundance, the Time of the Mother, when Earth's plenty can support large gatherings of her children.

Soon enough now, we'll all be off snug in our winter isolation.

But for now, we come together.

To work.

And sweat.

And feast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.
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Comments

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Tuesday, 26 July 2016

    Love that postage stamp at the top of the page. I'm guessing it's English.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Wednesday, 27 July 2016

    Yep. There's Betty Windsor up there on the right.
    Pagan holiday stamps: may we live to see them.

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