Today, the 1st of August – one of the great Celtic fire festivals – just so happens to be our national holiday. And so, under the stormy skies of dusk, we will gather with our villages around massive bonfires to commemorate the day in which our forefathers from three cantons swore to stand united in defense of our beloved valleys.
But is that really what we will be celebrating as we re-enact the great pagan rites of yore? I like to think that what we are actually doing – under cover of a national holiday – is honoring one of the eight points on the Wheel of the Year: the mid-point between the summer solstice and the fall equinox. Today, we rise and feast in recognition of the energy and wisdom of our Mother Earth, the source of who and what we are.
It started early in the morning, when we opened our eyes upon freshly baked breads adorned with miniature Swiss-flags, inviting us to journey back in time. To imagine ourselves walking amongst the Helvetians, our Celtic ancestors who gave our country their name, who on this very day would have baked and communally shared a loaf of bread made with the first sheaf of wheat, with the reverence such an act truly deserves.
Like them, we are called to symbolically mark the time of the first harvest, a time of grace and thankfulness for the abundance of Earth. In a world where food has become disconnected from time and place, from sun and season, today offers us a precious opportunity to remember our planet’s true rhythms and savor Her gifts. And so, as we let our thoughts wander into the skies along the golden streaks carved by sparkling flames, we are invited to bless what we take for granted.
It is a time of looking back at our journey and reaping the fruits of our labor. A time of reveling in the comforting heat of summer (at least in theory…) and its loving and carefree embrace. But it is also the acknowledgment of the waning light, which portends a slow descent into darkness. A moment to remember the cyclical nature of all things, were birth and growth are inevitably followed by decline and death, as substrate and seed of life reborn – another turn of the wheel along our spiral journey of spiritual evolution.
And so, we shall sit by the flames with our loved ones and gaze up at the distant fires lit by our hardy compatriots on the surrounding peaks. We will take in the intensity radiating from above and below, and carry the light home in our hearts, to illuminate the coming darkness and remember. Remember our kinship with the Earth and with each other. Remember to rejoice and celebrate Her beauty, with every breath, every day, and every season of our lives. Remember that She is sacred. And so are we.