I recently learned about Plough Monday, a tradition dating back to the middle ages where, on the Monday after Twelfth Night, communities would parade and bless their plough in preparation for the growing season. The blessing would often come from the local church and plough boys would apparently get up to all sorts of antics that people would give them money for (or to prevent); it was a bit of a fundraising event at a time of year when agricultural work was short. More info by much more knowledgeable people can be found here!
On reading about this tradition, I liked the idea of celebrating of the tools and the land that grow us our food. The sentiment of this festival has similarities with wassailing; acknowledging the bounty previously enjoyed and the hopes for a good harvest in the coming year. I planned our own celebration for today (Plough Sunday, if you like!) as Rob will be working tomorrow. As you would expect, we don’t have a plough for our little urban garden, but we do have hand tools with which we turn the soil, one of them being modelled here by Dylan back in the autumn! We need to spread some horse manure around our rose bushes, apple trees and in the extra spaces in our garden that we want to add to our veg-growing area this year anyway – as well as top up our potted acid soil-loving blueberry bushes’ ericaceous compost. I planned for us to do this today, with a little giving of thanks to our tools and the lovely colleagues and relatives who gave us the garden centre vouchers that we bought them with when we got married. For any tools that didn’t get a good clean in early winter to do so. For us to visualise the nutrients from the fertiliser seeping down into the soil, aided by the rain and the worms (of course they’d get a thank you too!), nourishing that earth to make it good for growing in. For us to visualise the plants that we hope to grow – to see them in our minds growing strong and green and beautiful (and tasty!!). To ask for the blessing of the spirits that we may do so with respect for them and for every living thing that our garden provides habitat for. The moon is waxing at the moment so I’d also have in mind that energy of nourishing, increasing, creating and growing.
However…. we didn’t manage to find someone selling manure in time. Another plan to get some general compost fell through. And then this morning vanished, and we had another commitment this afternoon. So Plough Monday it will be – focussing just on caring for and blessing our tools and our hopes for what we will achieve with them. Although that’s definitely a call for creating a wassail celebration for the end of the week! ♥
And here’s a few pictures from the tool-cleaning on the day! Baking as usually part of our celebrations, so we also made some cookies – carob and walnut sugar-free ones to represent the darkness of the earth and the bitterness that winter can hold. Indeed, as I handled the dough, my hands looked as they do when they are covered in mud from the garden! The walnuts were from my in-law’s walnut tree, under which the family dog is buried so their walnuts always remind of nature’s continuing cycle of life and death.