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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in harvest
The Last Harvest: Martinstag, the Räbeliechtliumzug, and Thanksgiving

We went out the door, wrapped in coats and scarves, with our paper lanterns lit. The streets were dark, but ahead of us, we could make out the shadows of other children and their parents, their faces softly illuminated by their own lanterns hung on sticks. The lanterns swayed gently as we walked. We went up the street, up the long hill, through the little Bavarian town we were temporarily calling home. It was the eve of Martinstag, November 10, and our neighbors who lived in the flat below ours had invited us to come along.

It wasn't a solemn ritual. There was laughter and chatter, an air of excitement. On the main street, a crowd gathered on either side, the lanterns brightening the darkness. A parade advanced and thundered down the street, roaring with music, vehicles decorated like ships, horses, and other modes of travel. Costumed celebrants called out, "Halloo!" a traditional battle cry, and tossed out candy that we scrambled for and stuffed into sacks.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I visit my sister Barbara and her family for Thanksgiving. She serves sparkling cider. She and her husband finally decided last

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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  • 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
Not Only Lammas: Other August Harvest Holidays and Traditions in Europe

Grains are goldening, apples and other fruits are ripening, and beehives are thick with honey. The harvest season has come and is rapidly maturing. While Lammas and Lughnasadh have passed in the UK and Ireland, other harvest holidays are still just beginning. Each festival celebrates the culmination of hard work and good luck, and marks the turning of the year, the slow fade of summer into fall, and the gratitude that people still feel for the benevolence of their lands.

Grains, Apples, and Honey

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Praise to the Farmers

    Walking out of my office is like opening an oven. The heat is a wall, strong, searing; there is a scent similar to baking bread rising from the grass that is toasting under the sun's unrelenting rays. My drive home takes me past farms along Route 5 in Deerfield: potatoes, tobacco, and corn growing strong and green despite the heat. We are not experiencing a drought; in fact the other day a thunderstorm hit on the way home with wind and rain so strong visibility was brought down to just a few feet. I am sure the rain was welcome just the same. 

    I think often of the local farmers. I am grateful for the countless hours they spend at their vocation and I recognize that it is a life I could not live. My own grandparents were farmers and factory workers, supplementing a life of hard work and unpredictable yield with wages earned by working in a foundry. Hard work and luck seem to be the mantra for farmers. Hard work, luck, technology, and engineering, farmers rely on many factors to answer their calling to serve. How did my grandparents manage? And their grandparents, and theirs? Go back generations, centuries, eras, and eventually everyone's forebears were farmers of a sort. They had only their own hard work, luck, and the grace of the gods to ensure plenty. 

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Calendar conundrums: harvest time in Modern Minoan Paganism

Over the past few days, my family and I have celebrated Lammas, a European harvest festival. But we don't include Lammas in the sacred calendar for Modern Minoan Paganism. Why not? First, there's the fact that the modern Neopagan eight-fold wheel of the year hadn't been invented yet back in the Bronze Age. But there's also the fact that in the Mediterranean, this isn't harvest time.

Many of us live in the northern temperate zone - the parts of North America and Eurasia that have four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter. Those seasons may be milder or more severe depending on the local climate, but they're still there.

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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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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Bad harvests

From Lammas (loaf mass) through the autumn, we tend to think about harvests and to reflect that in rituals. The normal procedure is to focus on the things we have grown and harvested in our lives because most of us aren’t intimately involved with growing and harvesting food.

However, bad harvests are very much part of nature. Too much or too little water, too much or too little sun, and your crops can fail. Insects, disease, people too ill to work the land, and other random natural acts can mean there is no harvest. This is a good time of year to look at the harvests you didn’t get to make because circumstances thwarted you. It can be oppressive having to be all joy and gratitude about life when life is not full of delight. If you are suffering, if you are restricted, if your scope to harvest has been denied you, it’s important to have space to acknowledge that. Gratitude is good, but not when it makes us ignore genuine injustice or go into denial about what isn’t working for us.

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