Reaping what we sow

“Truth is the harvest scythe. What is sown shall be your bread.” – The Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Lughnasadh, or Lammas, celebrated around 1 August in the Northern hemisphere, is a festival of the harvest. It is time both to celebrate the bounty of the fields and to reflect on what it is we are harvesting in our world today.

One Druidic belief is the “Law of the Harvest”, that whatever we do in the world creates an effect that will, ultimately, come back to us.

The world is on fire. The arctic is burning. We are in the grip of a climate crisis, a global emergency that is bigger, faster and more dangerous than even our previous models predicted. The sudden rise of droughts, record-breaking heatwaves, floods, and extreme weather seems to have come all at once, out of nowhere.

Of course, it hasn’t. Like any phenomenon, it grew over time, known about for decades but deliberately overlooked, ignored and covered up until it could be ignored no more – until it made itself known to everyone.

“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” – Hosea 8:7.

The climate breakdown is our harvest, grown from bad seeds. Humanity planted these seeds with the industrial revolution, and steadily grew them, watching them develop, feeding them over the years with ever more fossil fuel burned in unimaginable amounts, with deforestation on a truly heartbreaking scale, with the creation and subsequent trashing of cheap “convenient” throwaway plastics, with flights and factory farming and fast fashion.

Such a society, that grows and consumes and destroys without thought for consequence, is of course not sustainable. Infinite growth cannot exist on a finite planet, and any society that ignores these hard limits will soon find themselves facing the results of their actions. Humanity is reaping what humanity has sown, though as is always the case, those who caused it the most are not those who will suffer the most. The poor will be hit first and worst.

If this all sounds bleak and fatalistic, it isn’t. It’s just realistic. But the same law of the harvest that led us to this point also shows us the way to a better world.

If we wish to harvest a better future than this Mad Max dystopia of desertification and water-wars, then we need to sow better seeds.

What seeds are we sowing right now, for the future?

I see movements rising up, global rebellions led by grassroots organisations like Extinction Rebellion, demanding worldwide systemic change. I see young activists like Greta Thunberg speaking truth to power. I see Pagans and Druids and many more people besides planting trees and protesting at fracking sites. I see more and more people becoming aware, waking up and seeing the extent of our various crises, and being moved to act in ways large and small to change course, to plant seeds for a better tomorrow.

“The times, they are a-changing.” – Bob Dylan.

Standing in the face of the whirlwind, it’s hard to see beyond the despair. I do believe that we will lose a lot of what we love in the years ahead, but I also believe we will gain much, and we will, ultimately, win. I see the new generation, especially young girls who are standing in their power and demanding the old, patriarchal order make way, and I see hope. I see the seeds of a new and better harvest.

Not every idea, movement, or campaign will succed. Some seeds fail. We need to prepare ourselves for this. But some will win out; some rebellions really do overthrow empires. Some seeds will germinate and grow and transform the world.

“One for the rook, one for the crow, one to die and one to grow.” – Traditional sowing proverb.

While solving the climate crisis is not a task that can or should be loaded on to the individual – it is governments and industry that need to act, and act now – we can all do our bit, we can all plant our seeds. Write to MPs, lobby for change, protest on the streets, boycott fast fashion, refuse to fly for work or holidays, reduce meat consumption, create community gardens, pick litter in your local park, whatever you do, just do it. No matter how small, every action has meaning, every great forest starts with a seed.

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain ‘Move!’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” – Matthew 17:20.

We are the harvest, and we are the seeds. We are the mystery of death and life, we are John Barleycorn. What we plant, we will reap. May your Lammas be a reminder of the law of the harvest, and may all your harvests be bountiful.

“What didn’t you do to bury me / But you forgot I was a seed.” – Dinos Christianopoulos.

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