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|Lughnassadh; 1 August|
|Topic Started: 1 Aug 2012, 08:11 (46 Views)|
|Rowan||1 Aug 2012, 08:11 Post #1|
Lughnasadh is an Irish word that means "the games or assembly of Lugh" (loo), who was a great Celtic hero. Lugh is sometimes seen as a Celtic Sun God, or a thunder deity, though many people believe him to be nothing more than a highly skilled leader. He had many titles including "Lugh Lámhfhada" (Lugh of the Long-Arm) and "Lugh Samhioldánach" (Lugh equally skilled in all the arts).
The story of Lugh is an interesting one; he was the son of Fomorian princess, Eithne, and a man, Cian, of the Tuatha De Danann. The pair were doomed lovers, as a prophesy had told that the son of Eithne would one day kill his grandfather, Balor. In order to prevent this, Balor had tried to lock Eithne away. This did not stop the pair, and they met in secret, conceiving Lugh. When Balor discovered the lovers, he ordered Cian to be put to death and Eithne to be set adrift in the sea with her child. Very similar to the story of Perseus in Greek mythology. Eventually, the pair was saved by Goibhniu, the smith. He created a great spear for the child, giving him the name of Lugh Long-Arm. After a few years, Lugh was fostered by the sea god Manannán Mac Lir who Lugh the many skills he was famous for. Then Lugh was fostered by the Fir Bolg queen, Tailtiu, an Earth Goddess.
Legends tells that Tailtiu died while clearing the central plain of Ireland so the people could cultivate the land for crops. Lugh in great sorrow then created the Tailltean games, which would become known in modern times as Lughnasadh. The games generally included feats of strength, dexterity and speed.
Lughnasadh resides in the month of the Barley Moon. At Lughnasadh, the Wiccan rendition of the Wheel of the Year, portrays a mysterious weakening in the God (which is associated primarily with the Sun). The Sun rises further to the South each day and the daylight shortens. The Goddess watches in sorrow, realizing Her mate is dying, but is also joyful in the knowledge that he grows in her womb to be reborn as Her child. The Wiccan Goddess retains the Trinity aspect of Maiden, Mother, Crone. The Mother gives birth to the God, the Crone teaches him, and the Maiden becomes His lover and He becomes His own father. When He dwindles and dies, He is reborn at Yule, when the sun starts to grow in strength again, and daylight lengthens once more.
Symbols of Lughnassadh
• Other Names: Lammas, First Harvest, Ceresalia, August Eve Lúnasa
• Colors: Red, Gold, Yellow, Green, Orange, Citrine
• Symbols: Corn, All Grains, Bread, Full Moon, and Wheat
• Ritual Meaning: Honoring the Parent Deities, Honoring the Sun Gods, and Celebrating the First Harvest.
• Key Action: Receive and Harvest
• Ritual Oils: Eucalyptus, Corn and Safflower
• Stones: Yellow Diamonds, Peridot, and Citrine
• Plants: Corn, Rice, Wheat, Ginseng, and Rye
• Activities: Baking Bread, Gathering the First Fruits, and Astrology
• Taboos: Not Sharing Food
• Animals: Roosters and Calves
• Mythical Creatures: Phoenix, Griffins, Basilisk, Centaurs, and Speaking Skull
• Deities: Sun Gods and Mother Goddesses, Aine, Ceres, Demeter, Frey, Ishtar, Persephone, Taillte, Tailltiu, Tea and Tuaret, Bes, Bran, Dagon, Llew, Lugh, and Odin
• Foods: Breads, Corn, Berry Pies, Potatoes, All First Harvest Foods
• Drinks: Elderberry Wine, Mead, Ale, Meadowsweet Tea, and Cider
In Irish Gaelic, Lammas was referred to as "Lughnassadh", a feast to commemorate the funeral games of the Irish sun god Lugh. However, it is not Lugh's death that is being celebrated, but the funeral games which Lugh hosted to commemorate the death of his foster mother, Taillte. That is why the Lughnasadh celebrations in Ireland are often called the "Tailltean Games".
One common feature of the Games were the "Tailltean Marriages", a rather informal marriage that lasted for only 'a year and a day' or until next Lammas. At that time, the couple could decide to continue the arrangement if it pleased them, or to stand back to back and walk away from one another, thus bringing the Tailltean marriage to a formal close.
Such trial marriages (obviously related to the Wiccan 'Handfasting') were quite common even into the 1500's, although it was something one 'didn't bother the parish priest about'. Indeed, such ceremonies were usually solemnized by a poet, bard, or priest or priestess of the Old Religion.
A ceremonial highlight of Lammas festivals was the "Catherine Wheel". Although the Roman Church moved St. Catherine's feast day all around the calendar with bewildering frequency, it's most popular date was Lammas. (They also kept trying to expel this much-loved saint from the ranks of the blessed because she was mythical rather than historical, and because her worship gave rise to the heretical sect known as the Cathari.)
At any rate, a large wagon wheel was taken to the top of a near-by hill, covered with tar, set aflame, and ceremoniously rolled down the hill.
Some mythologists see in this ritual the remnants of a Pagan rite symbolizing the end of summer, the flaming disk representing the sun god in his decline. And just as the sun king has now reached the autumn of his years, his rival or dark self has just reached puberty.
Elemental Importance of Bread
Freshly baked bread is still a central part of many Lammas celebrations.
It is not just the wheat that is important. Bread is elemental. Earth, air, fire, and water combine in a substance that has nourished people for time out of mind.
Bread combines seeds from the earth (flour), with water, the substance that makes up most of our being. Add in salt, the purifier, and yeast, the sacred changer of the gods, the secret, airborne traveler who changes rotten grapes, into wine.
Mix all of these together, kneading the dough to shape and form. Finally, add fire to bake.
Suddenly, from those four ancient, basic elements, you have bread. It is no wonder it is called the staff of life!
Lughnassadh/Feast of Lugh
Lughnassadh honors the Celtic Solar God Lugh and may also have some association with the Roman Moon Goddess, Luna. Lugh was a God of harvest, fire, light and sun. He was King of the Tuatha De Danaan and the consort of Dana, the first Great Mother Goddess of Ireland. Dana, as Lugh's Queen and Mother Goddess, is also honored on this Sabbat.
Lugh's sacrificial death and rebirth as a sheaf of grain at Lughnasadh is often re-enacted on Lammas, symbolizing that even a God must eventually bow down to his Goddess through whose benevolence he is reborn.
Lughnasadh celebrates the triumph of Lugh over his archrival Balor. In one legend (and there are many of them), Balor was a Sun god, and, after his defeat, he descended into the underworld to heal. This is the reason that the days have begun to visibly wane at this time.
Lammas/Feast of Bread
Lammas is also known as The Feast of Bread, at which the first of the grain harvest is consumed in ritual loaves.
The Christian religion adopted this theme and called it 'Lammas ', meaning 'loaf-mass ' a time when newly baked loaves of bread are placed on the altar.
For most of the Western Hemisphere, the beginning of August is the earliest one can reasonably expect to begin harvest of the spring wheat (as opposed to winter wheat, a relatively new agricultural breakthrough). One of the old traditions for Lughnasadh was that the King of Tara hosted a feast containing one product of the land from each province of his kingdom. This not only showed that his reign was prosperous, but also his thanksgiving for the upcoming harvest. This is a festival giving thanks for the goodness we are about to receive.
As part of this thanksgiving, process, the first sheaves of ripe grain were hand-ground and baked into a loaf of bread and shared by all members of the community. The loaves were shaped into forms symbolizing things like the God of Harvest, the Goddess, the wheel of the year, or simply round, with the shape of a stalk or sheaf of wheat etched into the top. We continue this process today, although not necessarily with the first sheaves of harvest. Freshly baked bread is still a central part of many Lammas celebrations.
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