Gŵyl Awst (Harvest): Meaning, Celebration Ideas, Hymn And More!

20180723 GWYL AWST HARVEST MEANING IDEAS HYMN AND FULL MOON ECLIPSE

Harvest is almost upon us. Others, ancients, Celtics, Druids and early Christians, and latter-day ones know this event by a number of names, such as Lammas Lughnasadh, or Gŵyl Awst (as it is known in Wales). The latter being my preferred choice.

It’s a wonderful time to take stock at what has happened this year, to reflect and to give thanks, to learn, even through the tough times. It’s a time to give gratitude to the Source of All.

Lammas, or whatever name your prefer, is observed on 1st August, usually.

The word Lammas comes from the Anglo-Saxon hlaf-mas, meaning “loaf-mass”, and is the festival of the wheat harvest. If you think it’s far too early to think about harvest in the northern hemisphere, don’t worry. This is the first harvest harvest of the year. There’s another harvest celebration later on, at the time of the Autumn Equinox.

You might want to celebrate this festival on Wednesday 1st August, then; or you might like to delay it until the following Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

My grandmother, a great one for making home-made food would, especially at this time, make bara brith – Welsh for ‘speckled bread’. It’s similar to the Irish loaf, barmbrack, which is also delicious.

Oh, bara brith was my favourite type of bread as a child. It’s a cross between bread and cake! The smell of baking bread over the hearth in her north Wales county cottage was heavenly, so inviting, and so scrumptious. I can still remember the smell of that baked bread wafting up my nostrils, and my stomach rumbling in anticipation.

Alternatively you could celebrate Lammas a little early, say, on Friday, 27th July or that weekend – bearing in mind there’s also a full moon on Friday, 27th July, and more

But, there’s more. Yes, there’s a full moon coming up and it’s a total eclipse of the moon. All happening on 27 July 2018. It’s also known as a blood moon as total lunar eclipses – the Earth coming between the Sun and the Moon, makes the moon ‘glow’ with a dull red colour. It will be visible from the UK from moonrise at around 9pm. At different times it will be viewable from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and most of south America, but not the USA or Canada, so I’m told. From a UK persepctive lunar totality will start at 9.21pm and finish at 10.13pm.

So, a great reason to celebrate Lammas, Harvest, Lughnasadh, or Gŵyl Awst, at the same time as the full moon eclipse, unless you really like ritual and want to keep them separate.

As a child, I knew I was in for a treat. There was, and is, nothing quite like freshly-baked bread, baked in the hearth, and served, still piping-hot, and covered in lashings and lashings of real butter. I can remember butter running down my chin as I ate a huge chunk of fresh bread.

Wonderful.

Abundance.

Blessed.

And so, this Lammastide, as it has been since I was a child, I’ll be baking several bara brith, and sharing one – yes, the breaking of bread with family and friends – in a simple, ‘after meal’ remembrance ‘feast’, remembering all the good things that have happened this year. Giving thanks, in silence and humility, to the Source of All for the harvest, for life itself.

We are blessed, my grandmother used to say, when we share bread.

Ofcourse, you might like to just gaze at the moon this harvest time, walk in its light, or wait until 1st August to do that. Whatever you do, I would encourage you to celebrate Lammas, Harvest, Lughnasadh, or Gŵyl Awst.

Part of your celebration could be baking, or buying a nice loaf of bread from your local supermarket – from the bakery section – and inviting a friend or family member over, or by giving them a loaf, or by donating a small amount of money to a food agency for those with insufficient food, as an act of gratitude for a good year and as action to assist others.

We must give more in order to get more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest. Orison Swett Marden

Or, you might like to leave some food out (appropriate food for wildlife, ensuring that food left wont cause harm to wildlife) or pour out a small libation as a ‘thanks offering’ to That Which Is Bigger Than Us. Some friends pour out a small ‘tot’ of whisky or vodka or water at such times – a ‘giving back to the Earth’ which is full of meaning.

And, don’t forget to include in your gratitude those whose work brought food to your table: farmers, fisherman, factory processing people, drivers, store staff etc. A positive thought, prayer, light directed to them, I’m sure, would be appreciated.

You might like to recite a poem to celebrate this harvest time or recite some form of liturgy to make the time special of thankfulness. Or, perhaps reflect and meditate and give thanks at home, or during a night (or moon-lit) walk, or liturgically.

‘Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. ‘Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.” Exodus 23:16, The Book

I love singing and yet find a paucity of songs that reflect my Celtic upbringing and nature-loving viewpoint. And, so you might consider using the following song or hymn written by me last year:

HYMN FOR HARVEST

Lord of the harvest we come to you,
we thank you for the ripened grain
(for) the circle turning year by year.

Great provider of all humankind,
we thank you for the sun and wind,
the earth and all life-giving rain.

Surely, surely, you are good,
The God of Green Hope, good to all.
The Sacred Three, The Three in One.

Nature once in vernal green enrobed,
gives up its bounty, gifts for all
(and) prepares to sleep as autumn comes.

On our table you supply our bread,
We share with all, for all to be fed,
And joy in our heart at what shall be.

Surely, surely, you are good,
The God of Green Hope, good to all.
The Sacred Three, The Three in One.

Inspired by: Lord of the Harvest, Hymn by Joseph Anstice, 1836

To the ancient Celtic folk tune of Siuil a Ruin (see below)

‘Green hope’ a Romans 15:13, ‘The Message’, The Book, reference.

To get an idea of how the words above fit the Gaelic, traditional folk tune Siuil a Ruin, please click the link here. That recording plays a little preamble introduction and then after about 16 seconds two verses are played of that folk song, followed by a chorus, and the tune exactly fits the first two verses and chorus of the words above. Simple! I hope. Any queries, please contact me (and yes, I might even sing it for you).

‘The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest;. William Blake

Whatever you do, I wish you and yours light and love as Gŵyl Awst approaches. Many blessings, Tadhg.

 

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