So I’ve finally settled on a name for the August Sabbath…or two of them, really, because I like “Dimming” quite a bit as well.
It’s not really “Summer’s End”–at least, not where I live–although I can still consider it the beginning of the autumn season. Hot days lay ahead, especially in September. But it is undoubtedly Summer’s Waning–the days are notably shorter than at Midsummer, and the sky has begun to find the hard blue of autumn.
Summer’s Waning is an elusive holiday, particularly since it has no Overcultural corollary. Defining what it means and how to celebrate it can be tricky. But here is what I have come up with thus far.
First, it is the First Harvest. It is the time when the grain comes in, and thus all things grain-related become seasonally appropriate: bread, beer, grain spirits. Where I live, the blackberries have become ripe and it’s time to go picking, to bake cobblers and pies. And gardens are spilling out tomatoes, peppers, squash and leafy greens.
As the First Harvest, it is also a time to celebrate Work. Just as Midsummer is a leisurely holiday of ease and relaxation, when harvest time comes it is all hands on deck to bring in the grain and growing things. So I celebrate work at this time of year: vocation, right livelihood, labor.
I also associate this time of year with technology and invention. Our earliest tools were food-gathering tools, and technology plays an enormous role in our lives now: lengthening lifespan, allowing instantaneous communication across the globe, exploration of space. Though Paganism remains rooted largely in a romanticized aesthetic of pre-industrial Europe, our world today is dominated by technology, and we should have a time to celebrate the feats of discovery and invention that have so improved our lives over the centuries. It’s a good time for backing up files, de-fragging the hard drive, and so forth.
Finally, as I map the arc of a human life onto the Wheel of the Year, Summer’s Waning equates to middle age, when the height of vigor has been passed but (hopefully) rewards have begun to be reaped in terms not only of comforts, but wisdom.
As such, given that I am middle-aged, and searching for work, it is of particular interest to me this year. I’m not sure what all the things are that I will do to celebrate it next weekend, but celebrate I shall for certain. Perhaps a ritual meal and invocation of work that is a good fit for me in the near future.
Summer’s Waning (or Lughnasadh, or Lammas, or Dimming) is traditionally celebrated at the beginning of August, but the actual midpoint between the solstice and equinox is around the 7th, so there is still plenty of time for you to plan your celebration. Bake some bread! It only takes two weeks to brew a batch of beer. Back up those desktop files you’ve been meaning to put away, and drink a toast to having work that sustains you (if you do).
Celebrate, knowing the long days are waning. Winter is on the horizon.