Happy Harvest-That-Isn’t-Happening

It’s that time of the year again when a great bulk of Neopagans around the world—across the northern hemisphere, at least—celebrate their harvest festivals. Anglo-Celtic Wiccans have at least three and the Neo-Hellenes have one or two depending on their chosen polis.

But despite being a Hellene and a Hibernophile, I will have none of these because —

I do not live here:

My dream is to live in a forest of perpetual autumn.

(Which is sad because I am obsessed with foliage.)

But here:

In the Philippines, there is always something to harvest, so the

(Which is pretty OK because this means more food for Christmas.)

However, it seems that our local Wiccans and Wiccan-ish Neopagans couldn’t care any less about the nature around them. Happy harvest? Happy autumnal equinox? Dress your altar with autumn foliage? Who are you kidding?

Now, I know it isn’t my business, but I think it’s rather absurd to “celebrate” a harvest festival when there isn’t an actual harvest going on, especially if you claim to follow a “nature religion”. It doesn’t seem to serve the harvest gods very well to celebrate a harvest festival that isn’t happening.

That said, I want my pumpkin spice latte.

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5 thoughts on “Happy Harvest-That-Isn’t-Happening

  1. Honestly, this is something that has bothered me even as a neopagan living in a place that does get Western European-style seasons. On one hand, autumn definitely _does_ happen here, and celebrating the turning of the seasons does seem like it makes sense. On the other hand, a harvest festival really has no real relevance to my life, or the lives of anyone I know, given that I’ve always lived in cities, and given that the quality of the local harvest (or the harvest in any one particular place) doesn’t really have any meaningful influence on my life in the way that it would have historically even for city-dwellers in agrarian, subsistence-agriculture societies.

    I’m sort of torn between wanting to make at least some effort to care about traditional holidays (I’m vaguely Hellenic in my practice, although not very) and wanting to try to develop a practice that makes more sense in my actual environment and lifestyle. That said, I have not had much success in figuring out how to do the latter. (When I was an undergrad and built a shrine to Athena in the steam tunnels under my university, made a habit of bringing her offerings at times related to the schedule of the academic year, which made a lot of sense then but seems less relevant to the pattern of my life now. Honestly, it’s not clear to me what the relevant pattern is, though.)

    A sort of related side note is that, while I grew up in the Northeastern US, and am living there again now, in college I lived in Los Angeles, where autumn really just doesn’t happen. Interestingly, this made autumn/harvest holidays feel a lot more important to me than they had when I’d been living in a place with autumn, and I think that feeling hasn’t really entirely passed, even though I’ve spent the last six years back in Boston and Washington, DC. This even inspired one of the very few poems I managed to write as an undergrad:

    “Fall in California”

    There is a falsehood in the endless green,
    a lie of life’s eternal victory:
    for Samhain comes despite the leaves of green
    and seasons turn among the stars above.

    I feel the days are growing shorter now,
    I feel the coming of the winter’s night:
    and though no autumn breezes chill the air,
    I cannot help but feel the winter’s breath.

    Though warm and cloudless march the autumn days,
    I know the year is waning fast at home:
    I see the autumn colors that aren’t here,
    I feel the autumn winds that do not blow.

    Each year in autumn ages, days grow short
    ’til Yuletide brings the new year’s birth again:
    and I must keep the autumn in my heart
    for here the summer never seems to die.

    There is a falsehood in the endless green,
    a lie of life’s eternal victory:
    for Samhain comes despite the leaves of green
    and seasons turn among the stars above.

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    • That is an absolutely lovely poem, thank you for sharing!

      I’ve only ever lived here, south of Manila, where it used to be mostly agricultural land. Interestingly, the time before December has always had a very autumn-y feel, even without leaves falling — though, not sure if that’s just me longing for a traditional autumn vibe. However, I’ve noticed a few that do shed some of their leaves around this time, but also around late January. The seasons can be quite confusing if you’ve got a default four-season mindset.

      I think I’m on the same boat as you are. I’m currently trying to modify my religious calendar to make festivals more “relevant” to me and my household. I think it’s only natural, for our generation, since we hardly stay the same anymore in spite of the unchanging cycles of nature.

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      • Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

        *nods re seasons* I never really did figure out how to describe the seasons in Los Angeles: it was more of a dry season/wet season binary than “normal” four seasons. Although senior year I did hike into the mountains north of the city and found that the leaves did change color up there.

        I’d definitely be interested in reading more about your efforts to modify your religious calendar, if you get a chance to write about them!

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      • Check this tag for my previous calendar-making posts: https://undertwotrees.wordpress.com/tag/calendar — ALTHOUGH, I have exciting new changes that deviate from the previous not-so-final plan.

        Ours here is also wet and dry, but we have barren dry months and fertile dry months. I believe most of the Californian coast has a Mediterranean-like climate.

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      • *nods* I’ll take a look at other things under that tag.

        Speaking of things posted under tags, I’ve posted more of my poetry on my blog under the tag https://amiablebowfin.wordpress.com/category/books/poetry-mine/ Unfortunately, a lot of it is high school stuff that sucks, but a couple other of my religious poems from undergrad might be of interest:

        https://amiablebowfin.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/moonshine/
        https://amiablebowfin.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/stars/

        Yeah, although me and other people from more temperate climates tended to describe living in Los Angeles as “being in a desert”, I think it actually is a Mediterranean climate.

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