Song 8: Harvest Chant

© 1997 by T. Thorn Coyle

C                                                   F                   C

Our hands will work for peace and justice

C                                                F               G

Our hands will work to heal the land

C                                          F         C

Gather round the harvest table

C                                    F               C

Let us feast and bless the land

 strike11-SpD-TTC6089

History & Lore

Thorn:

I wrote Harvest Chant for a Fall Equinox ritual, many, many years ago.

A few years later, at a witchcamp, Starhawk wrote a descant to go with the chant. At the time, I believe we also changed “feast” to “dance” for that particular ritual.

Take the gift of love and death

Take the gift of blood and bone

Weave the circle breath by breath

Build the vision stone by stone

Every once in a while, people tell me that they use the chant for ritual. I’m glad it has some longevity. I’m glad people are still doing what they can to work for peace and justice in this world.

These days, however, I’d settle for more justice. Real peace only comes when justice is present.

Find more of Thorn’s music, writings, and teachings at thorncoyle.com

George:

A 50-second acapella version of Harvest Chant was included on Second Chants, and immediately became the “traditional” Fall Equinox song for San Francisco Reclaiming rituals (still being sung as of Fall 2016).

The 50-second version felt like a teaser that begged for a longer treatment. May this be the first of many!

For the instrumental section, we recorded fiddle, flute, and clarinet parts, plus Max and Jaden did an extended la-de-da duet while Meg continued the descant.

We tried various mixes, but none seemed quite right. Finally we dumped all the tracks in together – and voila, it started to sound like a Beltane maypole!

Never mind that it’s a Fall Equinox song – this actually is what the music for a Reclaiming maypole sounds like. There’s always the suspicion that some of the musicians have no idea what others are playing (which was certainly the case with these tracks, done in separate recording sessions) – but somehow it all comes together in the end.

We cut a few extraneous sounds, boosted the repeating clarinet figure (which reminds me of Tennessee Jed by the Grateful Dead – not surprising, as clarinetist dress attended more than a few Dead shows back in the day), dubbed in some firey fiddle parts by Alison – and we had it – the Psychedelic Latter-Day Beltane Meltdown Mix of Reclaiming’s Fall Equinox Classic!

Photo: Author T. Thorn Coyle leads a spiral dance at the Occupy Oakland General Strike, 2011. Photo by Luke Hauser / courtesy Reclaiming archives.

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