31 January 2015

Ode to Autumn

Ode To Autumn
 
By John Keats
 
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimmed their clammy cell.
 

30 January 2015

Lughnasadh - the Wake of the Lord of the Grain

Lughnasadh / Lammas / Harvest
As the Wheel of the Year turns once more, those of us residing south of the equator find ourselves at the gateway to the Autumn months and the darker months of the year.  Ironically, however, this gateway tends to herald in the hottest weather as if the sun is determined to cleanse and purify the southern lands through the element of fire before its departure is well and truly noticed.
 
Traditionally the Sabbat celebrated is that of the first harvest, Lughnasadh (from the Irish Gaelic LĂșnasa) or Lammas (from the Anglo-Saxon hlaf-mas, "loaf-mass") and when "the feast of the first fruits" was observed.  In the agricultural year, Lughnasadh or Lammas also marked the end of the hay making season that had commenced as early as mid Summer.

03 January 2015

Purification through Fire

Summer in southern Australia can be a rather difficult time of the year to get through, especially as the soaring temperatures often mean the threat of bush fires. Even the proposed respite of a cool change can often mean more danger as the approaching winds fan the flames. Only three days into this new calendar year and already the "purification season" has arrived.
 
This ancient land upon which we live has long sought cleansing and the clearing out of the old in order to make way for the new through fire. In fact, many of our native plants only germinate through the scorching flames.  The Aboriginal people understood this and used to start small bushfires to clear the fallen bark, dried twigs and dead bushes. These fires were slow-burning and the native bush quickly regenerated after the heat of the fire. This practice also helped to prevent larger and more destructive fires, especially as the native eucalyptus gum trees contains an oil within their leaves that is susceptible to bushfires, making them burn faster and hotter.