‘Rest and Digest’
Join us in the woods of West Norfolk on date to be confimred for an informal gathering and celebration of the beginning of the harvest season.
We will spend time with nature, share stories, cook supper, break bread, sing songs and celebrate the energies of the season together. After the challenges and separation of the last year we want to offer an opportunity for likeminded, nature-loving folk to re-connect with one another and spend some nurturing time in the woods.
The gathering is open to all (children are welcome) and is offered in the spirit of connection free of charge.
Booking – Please email us to register your interest
About the Venue
The gathering will take place at our woodland base on the West Acre estate, just off the A47 15 mins from Swaffham. Please download the pdf map below to find us:
If you use the App ‘What 3 Words’ the following will help you find the field entrance on Gayton Road (B1153) to turn into – ///cricket.wired.showering
The space is a beautiful, small woodland of Oak, Birch and Hazel with a cooling stream running along one side. It is a lovely space – but literally just a woodland, we have no indoor space. So please ensure you bring enough clothes to be comfortable, including full waterproofs.
We try to make the space as cosy as we can – we will have a shelter rigged in case of wet weather and the kettle will always be over the campfire to make hot drinks. There is no running water on site but we will have drinking water available in jerry cans.
We are currently in the middle of building our beautiful composting loo facilities – the loo is functional, however not completely finished. So loo facilities are comfortable – but not yet pretty!
What to Bring
The gathering will run from 2pm into the evening, so please bring whatever you need to be comfortable for that time, including:
- Appropriate clothing and footwear for being outside in the woodland. We would recommend you bring a spare layer and full waterproofs – just in case!
- Camp chair – if you would like to be more comfy, but logs are available too!
- Mug – we will be providing hot drinks
- Bowl & Spoon – we hope to make a shared veggie stew together
- A random vegetable (washed & chopped) – to add to the stew
- Insect repellent – there is a stream on site and hence a few bitey insects around!
- Notebook & Camera – for your own reflections
- Any medication you may need – asthma inhalers, hayfever tablets, epipen etc
- Any songs, stories or poems of the season you may like to share with others
The first harvest, a time of thanksgiving, abundance, gathering, rest, nourishment, a pause….
Summer has reached its height, the longest day has passed, and the days are slowly shortening. Everywhere there are celebrations of all that has been achieved in the active part of the year, whilst the sun still warms the earth. It is a time of celebration but also of reflection as we reap what we have sown, and plan for the oncoming winter. It is a time of abundance as hazel, beech and chestnuts ripen, and blackberries and apples mature in the hedgerows; but also a time of sacrifice as the corn is cut down to make way for the new life of the seeds.
- Lugh is the great Celtic Sun King and God of Light. August is his sacred month when he initiated great festivities; Feasting, market fairs, games and bonfire celebrations were traditionally organised.
- The Sun God, Lugh, as John Barleycorn, is the living Spirit of the corn, or grain. As the corn is cut so John Barleycorn is cut down also. He surrenders his life so that others may be sustained by the grain, so that the life of the community can continue. He is both eaten as the bread and is then reborn as the seed returns to the earth. The first sheaf of corn is supremely important, produces the first seed and assurance of future harvest.
- Lughnasadh is also known as ‘Lammas’ a word derived from ‘loaf mass’ and is indicative of how central and honoured the first grain and the first loaf of the harvesting cycle is.
- The first sheaf would often be ceremonially cut at dawn, winnowed, ground and baked into the Harvest Bread which was then shared by the community in thanks.
- The last sheaf was also ceremonially cut, often made into a ‘corn dolly’, carried to the village with festivity and was central to the Harvest Supper. This last sheaf would live in the home, often above the fireplace or hearth of the home, until the next harvest. Or it might be placed in the branches of a tree or mixed with the seed for the next year’s sowing. In some way it eventually needed to return to the earth from whence it came so that the fertilizing spirit of John Barleycorn, of the Harvest God, could pass from harvest to harvest. It could be ploughed back, returned to decay and rot, or burnt and the ashes scattered.
According to the Tree Ogham, Holly is the tree associated with this lunar month. As the days begin to shorten the ‘Holly King’ rules over the darkening half of the year (his brother the Oak governing over the light half). The evergreen of Holly reminds us of endurance, steadfastness, that life and light are present even if unseen during the darker times of winter. Its Celtic name ‘Tinne’ means ingot or iron bar, presumably due to the hardness of its wood. Spend time if you can with the energy of this tree and be aware of its qualities of balance, goodwill and protection.
We have drawn on the work of Glennie Kindred for this information. She has written lots of books and booklets on trees, festivals and ways to connect more with nature You may be familiar with her work but there is much information to be explored and of course, from other sources too – http://www.glenniekindred.co.uk/ )
Feel free to print out the attached information on The Wheel of the Year & tree ogham
A Traditional British song – As told by Diana Ferguson in ‘The Magickal Year’
“There came three men from out of the west, Their fortunes for to try.
As they had sworn a solemn oath; John Barleycorn should die.
They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in, Throwed clods upon his head,
And these three men made a solemn vow; John Barleycorn was dead.
Then they let him lie for a very long time, Till the rain from heaven did fall.
Then little Sir John sprung up his head, And soon amazed them all.
They let him stand till midsummer, Till he looked both pale and wan.
And little Sir John he growed a long beard, And so became a man.
They hired men with the scythes so sharp, To cut him off at the knee.
They rolled him and tied him by the waist, And served him most barbarously.
They hired men with pitchforks, Who pricked him to the heart.
And the loader he served him worse than that, For he bound him to the cart.
They wheeled him round and round the field, Till they came unto a barn.
And there they made a solemn mow, of poor John Barleycorn.
They hired men with crab-tree sticks, To cut him skin from bone.
And the miller he served him worse than that, for he ground him between two stones.
Here’s little Sir John in a nut-brown bowl, And brandy in a glass.
And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl, Proved the stronger man at last.
And the huntsman he can’t hunt the fox, Nor so loudly blow his horn.
And the tinker he can’t mend kettles or pots, Without a little of barleycorn.”
Barley is one of the oldest cereals cultivated by ancient European peoples. The song tells the lifecycle of the crop, personified by John Barleycorn the spirit of the grain, and its happy culmination into whiskey!
See you soon!
Any queries, please contact us at – email@example.com