Hello again. Lots of changes the last couple of months, both for me and for relatives, friends, acquaintances This time I think I'd like to talk about "harvest season" for a bit.
There are times in the various rites and ceremonies that have to do with the `gathering in' time of the year, when we feel that we need to offer up the "fruits of the harvest" to the Gods. We carefully select the best examples of what we have grown and nurtured since planting-time, polish our apples and scrape the mud off the squash and pumpkins, shuck a few ears of corn perhaps, and bring it all to the altar to offer in solemn ritual to the Lord and Lady, hoping to justify the time and labor we've spent.
It is certainly not my purpose here to be skeptical of that pursuit, rather to expand our horizons a bit. For a great many years I followed this "custom", and I must say I never thought much about it all.
Two years ago, my father was diagnosed as having cancer. The doctors toiled mightily over him for the past two years, but to no avail. My father passed into Summerland on October 14th, a week short of his 81st birthday, just a few months shy of 50 years of marriage.
I couldn't say that Dad was a Pagan in most senses of the word. He did, however, have some interesting views on my religious practices. This last spring, I was trying to explain to Dad why we have harvest celebrations; something he said jarred me out of a rut, as it were, and got me thinking on a parallel, if different track.
If, he said, you believe that the Goddess and God are responsible for everything being here, why do you make a big deal out of the harvest offering? The Gods already "own" everything you're trying to give them Dad pointed out to me that, given a modicum of rain and sun, most plants will grow and flower and fruit entirely on their own, untouched by human hands. Well, that set me to thinking. I've been mulling this over for a few months, and I'm still a bit confused. However, let me have a go at explaining what my thoughts are at this point on the "offering".
When I select fruits and vegetables from the garden to offer up to the Gods, the offering I make is not just the produce I lay on the altar. As Dad said, things will grow without, and sometimes in spite of what we do. What I'm doing is offering the fruits of my labor, not the produce itself. I've taken what the Gods gave me, and hopefully increased the yield by watering, fertilizing, hoeing, weeding Am I not saying, "I thank you for the raw materials, see what I've accomplished with your gift"?
Is life not a gift of the Gods? Every time I step up to the altar in circle, should I not offer up the best of myself in Their service?
A little child will pick up a stick or a rock off the street, and give it to you because he loves you. It's all he has to give. We have so much more. The Gods gave us life; they gave us the tools to mold it. By intellect, willpower, emotion, we become who and what we are. If we use those tools, what we offer to the Gods is surely a more acceptable thing to give.
My Dad didn't have the easiest or the best of life. Yet, though he had to work six days out of seven most of his life to make a home for Mom and me, he did it with a right good will. He learned everything he could; he did what he had to and a good deal extra; he loved life, nature and his family. He left a legacy in the hearts and minds of those who knew him that will not soon be forgotten. I can only hope that when it's time for my final "harvesting", I can make as acceptable an offering as he.
And that's the way it looks from here.Gary Dumbauld, editor.
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