As I finish writing my short exploration of Dożynki Harvest Festival I am left with different thoughts. Living in modern, western society, a poor harvest hardly impacts our daily life, let alone survival. We live an illusion in which human ‘mastered nature’. The sense of dependence so strongly present in rituals of the past disappeared from our daily consciousness. That’s probably why we seem to be so shocked when a tsunami or earthquake wipes out an entire region.
Since I moved out of big cities and live on the edge of a forest I feel a much stronger part of nature and its cycles. I can go on foraging trips and do gardening and they again visibly affect my life. I no longer need to ponder what harvest means to others. As I make another jar of jam made from fruits I collected in my garden I feel spontaneous gratefulness to the weather, the trees, the sun and everything that made this jam possible. When I celebrate like this I feel I honour something primeval and that this means the plums will be back on my tree the next year. I do not care about whether science or gods lie behind it. Magic and life can not be separated and I feel part of them both. This experience seem inherent in the process of growing your own food.
When I lived in a rented room and had no garden my celebration of autumn equinox could be going to a club or meeting friends and watching a great movie. Our culture, the things we create, be it a poem, a rave party or a new furniture in the living room, all come from our hard work. Celebrating the harvest ultimately celebrates our achievements, big and small. It celebrates the fruits of our work.
Many jobs we do these days seem pointless and not worth living for. Doing them we can end up feeling frustrated, unappreciated and empty. We feel trapped and begin to believe our life will never change. The celebration acts as a reminder of constant changes in the world around and in ourselves. It can be a good time to do spells enchanting for a new job and changes to our life in general.
For people working in the fields, the end of harvest marked a transition into a more relaxed and quiet time of the year but also a time when death becomes more tangible. I find early autumn a perfect time for holidays for that reason. I can step out of my daily routines, be quiet, relax and perhaps do something that feels exciting and dangerous so I feel the rush of life again. I can re-think my situation with a fresh mind afterwards. I see this as part of equinox magic. I make sure that during this holiday (even if it’s only one day off) I do something different than usual, go outside my comfort zone. I do something that makes me feel more alive.
One year I was preparing to move to another city and for my autumn holiday I visited Alton Towers and had a ride on the Nemesis roller-coaster (my first time on one). This was symbolic of the upcoming changes. It was terrifying but really fun too. I felt ready for everything afterwards! The move was swift and comparatively easy.
This year my equinox travel was to Pieniny in south Poland where myself and Anton had a great and magickal time involving rafting a mountain gorge, taking a chair lift up a nearby hill and having many chilled out walks in beautiful local parks. The focus of this travel was reorientation after our wedding.