Here in Aotearoa after the expansion of summer, we are now facing
contraction as the need to draw back into restrictions affects us all.
In uncertain times, the rhythms of nature bring comfort and teachings.
Expansion and contraction are part of the natural cycles of life as one season releases into the next.
You hold this rhythm in your bones and in your genes.
Resilience is about being able to accept both and draw on the good times to sustain you in the lean times. Right now, nature offers great bounty as First Fruits approaches on the 2nd of February.
For my Celtic ancestors, it was a festival of great celebration, one that lies midway between Summer Solstice and Autumn equinox. It was called Lugnasad (later Lammas to the Christians) and marked the first grain harvest.
As First Fruits arrives, I am always aware of how much ripening is taking place in nature. This is the season when I enjoy luscious tastings of apricots, nectarines, plums and blueberries, and if I’m lucky, some tiny tōtara berries.
It feels wondrous that the sun’s warmth can be stored in such a juicy form. I feel I’m tasting nature’s generosity.
Polarities exist too
Yet it is also a time of hardship and scarcity. For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, the cold still bites and growth is frozen. It is the time of First Light/Imbolc/Brigid, when the sun is returning, but not yet fully felt. You might like to click this link to read my blog post about this festival.
Even here in Aotearoa New Zealand, amidst all the abundance, hardship and scarcity are present.
In the heading picture above, you may have noticed that one of the bowls is overflowing with bounty, while the other is empty. Scarcity goes hand in hand with First Fruits, Lugnasad and Lammas. How is that so?
In Europe, the grain was ripe and from the first cutting, loaves of bread were brought into sacred space, to be blessed and tasted.
In Aotearoa, however, the kumara is still in the ground, as it needs a longer time to grow. And so Māori had to conserve what they had while waiting for the harvest. ‘Te Waru’, the name for the eighth lunar month, was linked with scarcity.
Creating a celebration for First Fruits
How do these contrasts affect your celebrations at First Fruits?
Here are two options
Create a celebration of abundance, enjoying the fullness of the first harvest and the generosity of the fruiting. Offer up thanks and gratitude for all that is ripening, outer and inner. Write down the qualities of nature’s goodness and place them in a pot or box, where they can be retrieved at a future time of need.
Create a celebration where, after giving thanks for what is fruiting and full in nature and in your life, you also turn your attention to the empty bowl or basket. You remember how for many, this is a time of hunger. You offer ‘bread’ (i.e. money) to the empty bowl or basket, with a pledge to send it to those in need.
(For more tips on how to create a seasonal ritual, check out my Seasons books below).
A final thought
If you are celebrating in nature, you might also like to write a letter to the earth. What do you need from the earth at this time? What might you give to the earth?
You can tuck your message into the base of a tree, under some bushes, or in the ground.
PS A new book will be going to the printers this month. I’m so excited — and busy!
Check out my books on the seasons to find out more: