Pagan Portals: Harvest Home
by Mélusine Draco
Publication date: August 25, 2022
This book, one of a series of Pagan Portal shorts, focuses on two of the three harvest festivals: Lammas/Lughnasadh and the Autumnal Equinox/Mabon.
Mélusine Draco presents the history, customs, traditions, symbolism, and folklore associated with a variety of autumn festivals from “ye olden days,” when emphasis switches from the goddess to a “male domination of the seasonal rites.” Harvest celebrations occur over a number of weeks, as the crops are gathered, culminating with the cutting of the last sheaves of Lammas grain, signifying the end of the work and the beginning of feasting for all who helped with the harvest. Seasonal recipes are provided, with some of the measurements in grams, pints, and millimeters.
The legends of John Barleycorn and traditions of the Lammas loaf and corn dolly pay homage to the growing cycle of life, death, and rebirth during one of the holiest times of the pagan year.
With Lughnasadh the forerunner of the more modern country agricultural fairs and festivals, Draco incorporates them into the mix when suggesting ways to modernize observances. Although written from a British perspective, it touches on customs and festivals from such places as France, Germany, Austria, Japan, and Spain.
While there are many interesting nuggets of information (Who knew about Michaelmas Day or a Mell-supper?) and ways to personalize fall festivals, I found some of the material just taking up space, including two long paragraphs on the crows; a discussion about topsoil; and subheads, each with a paragraph, defining dawn, twilight, sunrise, noon, how sunsets tend to be more brilliant than sunrise colors, twilight, dusk and midnight. There are also long excerpts from other sources, some of which I thought added little.
Although this isn’t the best book on Lammas and Mabon, it will give readers an understanding and appreciation for agrarian culture by focusing on the importance of celebrating the harvest in a multitude of ways.
Mélusine Draco originally trained in the magical arts of traditional British Old Craft with Bob and Mériém Clay-Egerton. She has been a magical and spiritual instructor for over 20 years with Coven of the Scales and the Temple of Khem, and writer of numerous popular books including Liber Agyptius: the Book of Egyptian Magic; The Egyptian Book of Days; The Egyptian Book of Nights; The Thelemic Handbook; The Hollow Tree, an elementary guide to the Qabalah; A Witch’s Treasury of the Countryside; Root & Branch: British Magical Tree Lore, and Starchild: a rediscovery of stellar wisdom. Her highly individualistic teaching methods and writing draws on ancient sources supported by academic texts and current archaeological findings. She now lives in Ireland near the Galtee Mountains and has several titles currently published with John Hunt Publishing including the Traditional Witchcraft series. You can also follow her on her blog.
About the Author:
All my life I have known magic was real. As a child, I played with the fae, established relationships with trees and “just knew things.” In my maiden years I discovered witchcraft and dabbled in the black-candles-and-cemeteries-at-midnight-on-a-fullmoon magick just enough to realize I did not understand its power. I went on to explore many practices including Zen, astrology, color therapy, native traditions, tarot, herbs, candle magic, gems, and, as I moved into my mother years, Buddhism, the Kabbalah and Reiki. The first man I dated after my divorce was a witch who reintroduced me to the Craft, this time by way of the Goddess. For 11 years I was in a coven, but with retirement, I have returned to an eclectic solitary practice. When accepting the mantle of crone, I pledged to serve and teach. This is what I do from my skoolie – a 30-year-old school bus converted into a tiny house on wheels that I am driving around the country, following 72-degree weather, emerging myself into nature, and sharing magic with those I meet. Find me at thewitchonwheels.com, Facebook and Instagram.