Henge Happenings #78 - Beltaine 2008
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Henge Happenings
Issue #79
Lughnasadh 2008

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Sharing the Grain Harvest of Lughnasadh

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Sharing the Grain Harvest of Lughnasadh

After some encouragement and curiosity from others, I wanted to take a few minutes to share how I and a few of my friends have celebrated our grain harvest in the past as a part of the ritual celebration of Lughnasadh. This is something that can be pre-planned and arranged to make it much smoother or for those who love a challenge or done impulsively if your supplies are readily available. This can be a solo endeavor or a group one, so don’t feel you need a group of people or even specially trained people to do this for yourself. This is the process of incorporating the ritual act of making bread into your own groves ritual. So what is so special about this particular sharing? Well, I grind my own flour from whole grains and I incorporate the flour into bread that I make just for ritual, sometimes as a part of the ritual itself, but always as a part of coming together activity for myself, my friends and family who are able to join me in my celebrations.

How you choose to do all of this is up to you. It can be as simple or as complex as you so choose. The key here is the fun learning and realizing what all has gone into the growth and now harvest of these grains we use daily and are harvesting at this time of the cycle of the year. If you aren’t aware of how this cycle of grain growth occurs, the I would also suggest you try growing a bit in a pot on your patio and harvesting even a few grains of your own crop that you have watched and worked with your own hands and learned within that cycle of growth and development, a reconnection to the land and its creatures – both animal and plant. This cycle can be the representation to our own lives and parallel all that we too have been through and as we prepare for this season to come to fruit and our lives to prepare to have the best we can on hand, so too does the cycle of the harvest.

So how can I do this? Well, the easiest way is to make some form of bread for your Lughnasadh celebration. If you have never made bread of any sort before, I would suggest trying out a few different recipes of your own choice and getting your hands a bit dirty learning how to do this simple process. However, to make it even more special and a group activity, get all of your friends and family involved!

Making bread the old fashioned way, with yeast and by hand, requires much work with the kneading to get the gluten (wheat protein) worked up to allow our loaves to rise properly. The gluten is the “glue” if you will, the protein strands that grab and hold the air pockets within the loaf to allow it to rise, much like those people in our own communities who are the glue that hold us together.

Make it an even more community event by having each member of the group bring one of the items needed to make your recipe and adding theirs in at the appropriate time. Make sure to have everyone take a few turns at kneading the bread as well. As they do so, they can place wishes and blessings in the dough. This is what many would call “magic” on the simplest level. So many who make their own home products find that this is the simplest act of “magic” that can be done in daily activities, imbuing the food with our wishes and blessings.

OK - I hear you now saying, but you said grinding your own grain, how can I do that? Well, the above suggestion uses regular flour you buy at the store, but you can step that up even more if you are adventurous. It isn’t hard but it takes a bit of preplanning.

The first option is to obtain a whole grain of your choice. I like to use a mix of grains, typically wheat, rye, oat, spelt and more. There are many to choose from and I suggest you try them all over time and find the ones or the flavors that suit your palate or are significant to you for your celebration. Most of these can be obtained through your local health food styled grocery shop. Ask them if they have it or can get it.

Wheat is one of the easiest to obtain and soaking some of the grains overnight will soften them enough to make it more easily eaten if added to any bread recipe you are making. If you soak the grains in hot water over night – when you add them to your dough they are chewy. They are like those nice grains you see in store-bought breads that are usually labeled “wheat berry” or even “whole grain.”

A second option is to soak that grain in really hot water for a full 1-2 days before baking, then grind it to a mush state using a food processor, blender, a mortar and pestle or even a grinding stone. This is another place where each person can take a turn at grinding a bit or if using just soaked grain – everyone can add a pinch and add with it their wishes and blessings. This ground mash gets added to the regular bread recipe to allow you to have put whole grains and hard work into the loaf.

These are simple ways to add more personal action into your bread making and still use a conventional recipe. The measurements for your bread will obviously vary from the one you are trying to follow, but it is easy to get it back on track by adding flour to get the right consistency for kneading.

Image of Bread and CheeseNow if you want to step it up further, then you can get into grinding your own flour from whole grains. This requires special equipment which isn’t overly expensive, but is a consideration that many would not do without. It all depends on how far into the bread making process and how “basic” or “whole” you want to get with your bread. It is all up to you. I personally enjoy grinding my own grain – done in a whole dry form, and making my bread from mostly whole grains not processed in a factory. This creates a very different kind of bread than the white bread many think of as bread. It is chewier and considered a more rustic flavor. I hope I have given you a few ideas about incorporating the group as a whole into a process that is the basis for whole civilizations. Whether it was whole wheat bread or the lovely oat scone, it is the act of creating and nurturing and is still part of what brought people together and made them feel as part of a community, safe, full and warm, as well as a symbol of being loved.

Yours in the Kitchen
Aauriane Veleda

 

Next: The Druid's Path: Finding My Theology

 
 

 

 

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