The waning half of the year leads us into the concept of sacrifice. During this time we begin our spiritual descent into the Underworld. Lughnasadh marks the first of the three harvests: the Grain Harvest of Lughnasadh, the Harvest of Fruits at Mabon and the Harvest of Meat at Samhain. Now we begin our stocking up for the winter, we put aside our abundance from the seasons of growth to see us through the barren times ahead.
For our ancestors, and even for some people today, life was far more precarious than it is now; the weather could wipe out a year’s work in the fields if it turned bad, the game could disappear during a drought. There were no supermarkets if you ran out of flour or apples or oats. Life simply proved itself unstable, as it does even now. And when there were not enough provisions, people starved.
Taking a more modern psychological view, we can view this time of the year as a period of purification, mourning, austerity. In our religions and our belief-system as Pagans and Witches, 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, so that we might drink. The harvest of the meat is the sacrifice of life that leads to life.
At this time, we carry this through on an internal level as we reenact the symbolism of rebirth, of reincarnation. We shed that which is unnecessary and turn the Wheel of our souls so that we might progress and evolve on a spiritual level. We let go of the old, sacrifice old patterns and habits, and welcome the void this creates, that new experience might enter our lives.
So now, 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 be 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.
Set up your altar with a black cloth, 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 Universe, the Three of Cups, and the Two of Pentacles or Disks.
Settle yourself quietly in front of your altar and light the candle. Take three deep breaths, slowly exhale, and place the Empress face up in the center of the altar. Focus on the energy of the all-surrounding Earth Mother and the protection she brings. See a sphere of brilliant green-earth energy surrounding you, guarding and comforting you as you continue your meditation.
Cover the Empress with the Three of Cups. Visualize all that is good in your life, all that is in abundance. Count your blessings and give thanks for them. Think of what you have harvested in this year, what projects you have completed, what rewards you have gathered for work done. Enjoy the feeling and be proud of your achievements.
Place the Two of Pentacles atop the Three of Cups. See the cycle changing, know that life is ever-moving and that as much as you’ve achieved, there is more to do. Think about that which you’ve accumulated, whether it be ideas, concepts, beliefs, or material goods, that might get in your way of shifting into a new cycle.
Next, place the Hanged Man over the Two of Pentacles. Envision yourself making the sacrifices necessary to open up the doorway for change. What do you need to remove from your life? Are some of your friendships and relationships faltering and you haven’t had the courage to walk away? Do you have old goals that are no longer applicable? Have you desired a change of direction but have been too afraid to admit it? See yourself now, making these changes, creating a void for new experience and people to enter your life. Know that if you have the courage to make room, positive change will come.
Lastly, place the Universe atop the Hanged Man. Feel the Wheel turning, 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, the holiday, and the spirit of change. For only through embracing the void, can we hope to attract new experience.
Blessed Be, this Lughnasadh.