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Æcerbot and Wassail: Blessing the Fields and Orchards

By Carolyn Emerick

During the autumn season when imagery of the harvest is all around, it can be easy to forget that the cornucopia of produce yielded is the product of year round effort. Though we, most of whom are removed from the production of our own sustenance, may not be consciously aware of the agricultural calendar, it is something that our ancestors were very much aware of. Until very recently in the grand timeline of human history, the vast majority of human beings participated in agriculture, in one way or another, as well as the age old customs and rituals that went along with it.

We know that ancient spirituality was unequivocally bound with agriculture and the turning of the year. It is thought that one main reason the ancients built Neolithic monuments which monitored movements of the sky (ex.
the chamber at Newgrange which is flooded with light at sunrise at the Winter Solstice) was to keep track of the passage of time which mark key agricultural dates of the year. Because spirituality was so inextricably linked to agriculture, it is not difficult to understand how and why ritual became associated with the sowing of seeds and reaping of the harvest.

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