Lughnasadh and Consumerism

As we have become divorced from what it is to be directly in touch with our food production, or indeed the production of any of our resources, Lughnasadh can be a tricky holiday to fully relate to. Many will look to the aspect of the waning of the God or male aspect of the year, an honour and reverence for the changing of the seasons. For me in the climate I live in, an excitement settles in. The long relentless humid and hot days will begin to wane and with it comes the anticipation for the relief of cooler days.

However the idea of the harvest weighs heavily on me this year.

The last year has been one of both pulling weeds and sewing seeds (metaphorically) and as I look out over my field, I see that there is still another long year ahead of preparing the soil, weeding and planting. However, a great sense of accomplishment remains when I look at just how far I have come. And just how much I have learned in the space of a year. You could say in many ways, the last few years have been dedicated to my real education – not the one I learned in school or university. And this last year in particular has involved the application of my real education.

My real education has been one of unlearning. Unlearning behaviours that have been taught to us by society to be both acceptable and respectable, things that society was brainwashed by big corporations to aspire to. I have been unlearning consumerism and unraveling all the things that keep us chained to it.

Now what has this to do with the harvest? A lot actually. There was a point 2 years ago where I sat in my living room taking in everything in it. For the first time in my life I could say that truly, I had enough. My 20s had been a whirlwind of study and collecting things for my home and although my furniture is shabby in comparison to the photos in glossy magazines and on television, I had everything I needed. A fully stocked and functional kitchen, all the comforts and furnishings you’d expect in a living/dining area (minus a TV or “entertainment” unit). A wardrobe stuffed to the brim with clothing, a study complete with desk and shelves overflowing with books.

I remember sitting there feeling quite empty. Is this it? I was raised, like many of us are to go to school, get good grades, go on to do further study, find a job, make money and furnish a house (perhaps get married and have children too). You don’t really think too much on it when you are in the midst of excitement of gaining independence as an adult and studying for your future career.

Then you spend a few years on the treadmill, going to your job, making money, paying bills etc. I knew, as I looked around my living area that this was the point where I was meant to upgrade my student furniture. “So this is what life is? Working to upgrade my possessions until I retire?”. It wasn’t adding up.

Something was nagging at me. And it took a little while for it to settle in. A complete disconnection from creation. Who made my furniture? Where does my food come from (besides a vague “made in Australia”)? Who sewed my clothes? And while we are on that path, how is fabric even made? And the biggest question, why do I have none of these skills? Skills that would have been taken for granted only a century ago.

Then it drops in completely. I have been trained to consume, not create. I am completely and utterly reliant on a network of corporations and businesses. What happened to community? How can we actually appreciate the true abundance of the harvest when we have no idea where the harvest came from or what went into creating it?

And so as it goes, one must begin questioning. What have I been taught to “need” and what do I actually need? What can I create or learn to create? How can I support my local community? My future goals include learning permaculture, so then perhaps a Lughnasadh in the future, I can celebrate my own physical harvest. Mother Earth gifts us many things, perhaps this is a good time of year to put aside the incessant wants programmed into us and appreciate what we have.

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