Lughnasadh marks the first of the three harvests: the Grain Harvest of Lughnasadh, the Harvest of Fruits at Mabon, and the Harvest of Game at Samhain. Ancient peoples celebrated Lughnasadh as a time of great happiness, enjoying the gifts of the earth. Yet the harvest also began the waning half of the year, when it became time to stock up for winter. Our ancestors put aside the abundance from the seasons of growth to see them through the barren times ahead, making the harvest a time of self-sacrifice as well as bounty.
Taking a modern psychological view in this age of plenty, we can view this time of year as a period of purification, mourning, and austerity. In the Pagan and Wiccan belief system, we liken it to the dying of the God. When we harvest the grain we harvest his body. We shed his blood when we harvest the fruit, and we make a life-giving sacrifice when we harvest game. On an internal level, we reenact the symbolism of rebirth and reincarnation. We shed unnecessary things and turn the Wheel of our souls so that we can progress and evolve.
During the waning half of the year, we seek the labyrinth of inner-world journeys. Even as the God descends into the Underworld where he will rule until he is reborn to the Mother at Yule, we undergo introspection and transformation in our own lives. One way to experience this journey is through use of the tarot.
A Tarot Ritual for Change
To begin, set up your altar with a black cloth. Place an ear of corn on the left side, a beeswax taper candle in the center, and a chalice of wine or grape juice on the right side. If you like, cast a Circle. From your favorite tarot deck, remove these cards: the Hanged Man, the Empress, the World, the Three of Cups, and the Two of Pentacles. Settle yourself in front of your altar and light the candle. Take three breaths, slowly exhale, and place the Empress face up in the center of the altar. Focus on the energy of the protective Earth Mother. See a sphere of brilliant green-earth energy surrounding you and comforting you.
Continue meditating as you cover the Empress with the Three of Cups. Visualize all that is good and abundant in your life and give thanks. Think of what you have harvested in this year, what projects you have completed, and what rewards you have gathered. Enjoy the feeling and be proud of your achievements. Then, place the Two of Pentacles atop the Three of Cups. Imagine the cycle changing, and accept that life is ever-moving and that there is always more to do. Think about the things you've accumulatedâ€”ideas, concepts, beliefs, and material goodsâ€”that might get in your way as you shift into a new cycle.
At this point, place the Hanged Man over the Two of Pentacles. Envision yourself making the sacrifices necessary to open the doorway for change. Imagine what you need to remove from your lifeâ€”faltering friendships and relationships, old goals that are no longer applicable. See yourself now, making changes and creating a space for new experiences and people to enter your life. Know that if you have the courage to make room, positive change will come.
Lastly, place the World atop the Hanged Man. Feel the Wheel turning, and feel the Universe responding to your call. Know that serendipity will fill your life as you let go of outworn and outdated concepts and ideas. By surfing the crest of the Universe, you flow with the current of change rather than attempt to ride against it. Now pick up the chalice of wine or juice and toast yourself, this holiday, and the spirit of change. For only by embracing the void can we hope to attract new experience.
Blessed Be this Lughnasadh.
A Spread for Taking Stock
For this spread turn each card over in turn as you concentrate on the question: What should I be focusing on in this aspect of my life?
Card 1: Intellect
Card 2: Career
Card 3: Physical environment
Card 4: Magic
Card 5: Spirituality
Card 6: Health
Card 7: Emotions
Card 8: Sexuality
Card 9: Fate and what you can't control
From Llewellyn's 2001 Tarot Calendar. For more Llewellyn tarot books and decks, click here.