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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in harvest rituals
Lammas, the First Harvest, the Beginning of the End of Summer

Many people have been readying for Lammas this past week. My Instagram feed has been full of beautiful loaves of bread in all shapes and sizes, filled with herbs or sprinkled with oats and other grains. I’ve made my own loaves of bread in preparation and am planning for other elements of the holiday: an outdoor fire in our fire bowl, homemade kvas, some soup or stew to sop up with the homemade bread, a fresh salad, some outdoor games with the kids, maybe a walk in the woods.

I love this holiday that is essentially a celebration of bread. Bread is a sacred and ancient food, one so common and humble that we often take it for granted. But no one can deny the wholesome, enriching influence of homemade bread: the feeling of connecting with old ways as we get messy with flour and meditatively knead the dough; the rich, savory perfume emanating from the oven as it bakes; the softness of the inside and the hard crust of the loaves eaten plain, with cheese, or slathered with butter or jam. It is a gift to make bread -- to ourselves, our loved ones, and our homes. It’s no wonder that the Matres and Matronae, ancestral mother-goddesses worshipped by Celtic and Germanic tribes across northwestern Europe and whom I worship and honor, were depicted in iconography with grains or loaves of bread, along with fruits, babies, and dogs. Bread is a staple in many meals, a magical food born from grains carefully grown from the earth, at first green and then gold, milled and baked, wholesome and hearty.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I made corn pudding yesterday. I have enough left over rice to make rice pudding later in the week.
  • The Cunning Wife
    The Cunning Wife says #
    Yum! Enjoy!

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Shhhh,
be still and watch
where Luna rises
like golden wheat
in the dark oven
of the sky

excerpt ¤ Claire Blotter 2016

 

Lammas

The moon rose, found herself
in the green arms of an apple tree

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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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  • 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
Hunting the Green Man

All too often, summers slip away from us, like a will-o'-the-wisp, gone with the morning dew. Especially for those of us in the Midwest, we wait for the better part of the year. When it is finally upon us, we all too often jam-pack our calendar full of social events and family obligations. In this way, we inadvertently deter ourselves from slowing down and actually breathing in time with the summer. Do you multi-task, even while lounging in your hammock? Wrong approach! Truth be told, I myself am all too guilty. Let's examine some of the ways we can stretch out the season for enjoying, and perhaps bend time in the process.

Lounge in a hammock
Acceptable behavior 101: staring at the sky above and/or bird and cloud formation watching. Reading a good book. Napping. Going barefoot. Petting a cat. Not acceptable: any social media or a cell phone. Banish them from your sacred hammock space, please.

Camp in the woods or in farm country
Acceptable: strolling. Meditating. Breathing deep in the fresh air. Listening to trees and wildlife. Feeling the wind on your face, the sun on your skin, the sprinkle of raindrops, the fresh earth as it runs through your fingertips or a collectible stone. Building fires. Dancing in a rain storm, preferably naked. Dancing around the aforementioned fire. Taking a canoe out at night among the moon and stars. Laying down in the grass and staring up at the sky. Unacceptable: TVs, cell phones, social media selfies.

Watch a sunset, preferably near a body of water, in nature
The rules would be that you watch it from start to finish. You take it in, watch the colors that light up and change the skyline and the landscape. You take the time to notice all the songbirds that have a routine at this magical time of day. Like the swifts, who just seem to go nuts, like clockwork, swooping around in their quick little aerodynamic patterns. Guess what you don't need to do? Take a digital photo – they never do it justice, anyway. Notice all of the little changes that occur as day slips quietly into night.

Take a lunch break outside
Either sit under a shaded umbrella, go walk in a nearby park. Again, you don't need to share every moment with everyone you know. You can learn to truly take stock of your surroundings more, if you go solo. Kick off your shoes and let the grass tickle your toes. Watch the birdies, squirrelies, chipmunks, bunnies, and butterflies. Marvel at the greenery and flowers that surround you, everything perfectly at their peak. Eat slowly, savor every bite, and be thankful for these simple pleasures. Oftentimes, they are the things that make life worth living.

I realize that the Holly King rules for now, but he is still that shadow side of the Oak King. They are both the Green Man, and while we can appreciate him in his outdoor glory, we certainly should.

More reading:

https://www.thoughtco.com/the-green-man-spirit-of-the-forest-2561659

https://salemsmoon.wordpress.com/gods/the-horned-god-oak-king-holly-king-and-green-man/

http://www.earthwitchery.com/oak-holly.html


Photo, "Natural Bridge Waterfall," by Rob D. from freedigitalphotos.net

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Corn Moon Celebration

The word "harvest," immediately conjures up the calendar pages of September and October in the mind's eye – replete with dried corn husks, gourds, pumpkins, red wine, and tart juicy apples. Although all of these images are thoroughly justified, the first of the harvest fests technically begins August 1. Lammas/Lughnasadh has come and gone, but you can feel the full ripeness and end of the summer all around you. It is there in the rich green leaves and vivid colors of plant life and flowers – their lush smell from the warmth of the summer sun at its peak. The corn moon rises this Thursday the 18th. What better occasion than to gather some of your clan near and toast to the changing of seasons, then?

If you have a craft brewer in your midst, by all means, this is the time to invite them to share their bounty! Likewise with anyone who dabbles in home fermentation in the way of kombucha or wine. Definitely roast some ears of corn from a local farmer's market over an open flame, and toss some fresh Caprese salad with bursting cherry tomatoes (surely a guest had good luck in their garden this year), fragrant basil leaves (ditto), creamy mozzarella (cheesemakers step up) and drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil and a good three leaf balsamic vinegar. Plump blackberries or plums (anyone's backyard pickings), would certainly be appropriate at this gathering, as would any just-caught perch that the fisherperson in your group would be willing to pan-fry for the crowd. Make it a true Pagan potluck where each guest can bring to the table some of their own personal harvest for others to sample. As host/hostess, you could bake up some little "Wolf and Moon Cookies" for dessert. Here's a favorite recipe that I like to go to:

     LEMON WOLF COOKIES
     *If you don't own a wolf cookie cutter, have no fear! Just make little full moons, half moons   
     and new moons by rolling out the dough and firmly cutting the shapes out of the bottom of a 
     shot glass. If you do own one, make the wolves first, and then the moons out of the left-over dough.
     4 1/2 cups flour
     1/2 teaspoon salt
     1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
     1/2 teaspoon allspice
     1/4 teaspoon cloves
     1/4 teaspoon ginger
     2 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
     1 cup sugar
     6 oz. cream cheese
     1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
     5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
     Stir dry ingredients together and set aside.
     Cream butter, sugar, cream cheese and grated lemon peel. Mix in fresh lemon juice. Add dry ingredients a little at a time, until well blended. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1/2 to 1 hour.
     Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8" thick. Dip cookie cutter in flour and cut out your wolf cookies.
     Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheets for 8-10 minutes.
     ICING
     2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
     1 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder
     2 1/2 - 3 tablespoons water
     food coloring (optional)
     Mix sugar and meringue powder in large mixing bowl. Add water and beat at low speed for 8-10 minutes until icing forms peaks. Add food coloring a tiny bit at a time, stirring until you have the color you like.
     Spread on cooled cookies or pipe designs on with a pasty bag. Keep icing tightly covered when not being used.
     (Recipe from Patricia Lynn Bradley, Bark & Bradley®, Inc., adapted by Colleen DuVall)

Sing some songs around the fire pit. Pass one chalice of the last of the home-brew that everyone takes a sip of to further bond your friendship. Finally, partake in a bit of communal moon-watching together. According to space.com, "The next full moon will be the Full Sturgeon Moon of Aug. 18. It will peak at 5:27 a.m. EDT (0927 GMT), but will appear full to the casual stargazer a day prior and after the peak day. August's full moon has also known as the Full Red Moon (because the moon can look reddish through haze), as well as the Green Corn Moon and the Grain Moon."

Resources:
Photo, "Corn And Mazie Field," by franky242 at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
http://www.space.com/16830-full-moon-calendar.html
http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/documents/consumption/HealthDishWisFish.pdf

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

September is Pagan Pride Month!

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  • Paula Lopez
    Paula Lopez says #
    This has just made my day since i found out there will be one near by!!!
  • Natalie Zaman
    Natalie Zaman says #
    Thanks for stopping by! I love Pagan Pride Day!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
My Children for My Children

If ever I've heard Earth speak, it was in that moment.

Early August: a windy hilltop in western Wisconsin. We've called to her, our beloved Earth of many summers. She stands here in our midst, her hands on the swelling curve of her belly, and her look to us is love.

She cries out. She is in labor now. She crouches in the birth-squat and we dance for her. We labor with her in her birthing, until that final long-drawn cry of triumph. Our circling stills. In the windblown silence, she draws forth from beneath her skirts the newly-born, the god-loaf. We cheer them, him and her.

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