For the ancient Celts, September marked the mid-point of their Autumn life. In these blazing days that might sound strange to our ears (it hardly feels like Autumn to most of us), but on the wheel of the year this quarter is earmarked for “harvest.” Their wheel, their internal rhythm even (and ours!) has the mid-month of every season as the transitional one:
That middle month is the one of transitions with the equinox or the solstice of the season lying in its belly.
September is a season of invention and harvest. The crops are pulled in fully in this month. The fireplace starts to roar at night not only around dinner time, but longer into the evening as cool air sweeps through the house and the canning and drying and preserving that needs to happen for the coming Winter gets underway.
The fire in the hearth is mirrored by the fire starting to show up in the leaves now gloried on their way to death, and the drying fields calming themselves, preparing for new birth next year.
Toward the end of this month, to honor the final bit of the harvest, dried pieces of wheat and barley would be woven into a crown and hung on doors and windows, or worn on the heads of children.
The whole town would come together as the last sheaf was brought in and they’d have a large feast where the last sheaf of the field was woven and decorated. They’d toast the sheaf, saying “Here’s to the one that helped us with the harvest!” Then they’d take the decorated sheaf and hang it in a place of prominence.
This is where we get our modern day “autumn wreaths” that adorn our own doors and fill up your local Michael’s or Kohl’s in the “home decor” section. Today we see these as pretty and festive. For the ancient Celts they were a sign of thanksgiving and triumph, as the harvest gods had once again provided.
Welcome, September, the month of transitions. We thank you once again for the harvest.