Beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm.
…[W]hat is beautiful is a joy for all seasons.
~ Oscar Wilde
On the Celtic calendar August 1 is a significant time of celebration. It marks the beginning of the harvest season.
The history of the Celts goes back more than 3000 years. Their calendar has eight dates that mark the progress of our yearly cycle in the Northern Hemisphere. Four of the dates are familiar. They are the Spring and Fall Equinoxes and the Summer and Winter Solstices. They are called ‘quarter days’ as each represents a quarter of the year. The other four dates may be somewhat less familiar. They are called the ‘cross-quarter days’ and they fall half way between the solstices and the equinoxes. All eight dates are connected to agriculture and happenings in the annual cycle of life.
The yearly cycle of quarter-days begins on February 1/2. Today we call it Ground Hog’s Day. The tradition is that if the ground hog sees its shadow there will be six weeks more of winter. It if doesn’t see its shadow, Spring will come sooner. Notice that six weeks from February 2 is March 21, the Spring Equinox. The Celtic calendar has another meaning altogether for this day. It is called Imbolc which translates as ‘the belly of the Mother’ because the seeds of spring are beginning to stir in the belly of Mother Earth. Birth.
The next cross-quarter day is May 1 – half way between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. It is the time when new life begins to sprout. It is also a time to celebrate the return of new life and fertility to the world in general. And, in specific, it is a time when young men and women were introduced to each other; of new love and romance that may lead to the June weddings of midsummer…a thousands of years old tradition that still lives on today. Growth.
I’ve already mentioned the third cross-quarter day which is August 1, Lammas. It symbolizes the beginning of the harvest over the next six weeks to the Fall Equinox. It is a day when bread from the first crop of the season was blessed. Today we go to state fairs and farmers’ markets. Harvest.
The fourth cross-quarter day falls on October 31 and November 1/2. October 31, of course, is called Halloween today. November 1/2 is called ‘All Souls’ Day’ or ‘The Day of the Dead.’ The Celts called this time ‘Samhain.’ It is a time for those who are living to celebrate, honor, and visit with relatives who have departed. It also represents the completion of the cycle and the beginning of the darkest time of the year. Death.
Our life cycle mirrors the annual cycle of Mother Earth: Birth, Growth, Harvest, Death.
The first offering of Consciously Participating in the Evolution of Life began on June 21/22 and will complete on September 21. The meeting dates weren’t originally planned that way but, as hidden order under chaos of scheduling would have it, it’s perfect! Solstice to Equinox is no coincidence. For me, it’s evidence that we are receiving guidance and support from Higher Intelligence.
It’s been such a wonderful experience for all of us that I have decided to offer it again. The next offering will begin during the week of Halloween / All Souls’ Day that closes one cycle and, with accounting for holidays and all, it appears that it will fit perfectly with the Celtic calendar again. It will be complete around Ground Hogs’ Day / Imbolc which opens a new cycle. Much more to come!
Photo by Barbara
Sumac during Lammas: August 1 – September 21
Cedar Lake, Minneapolis, MN