Monday, October 05, 2009

Footnote to "The Dark, again"

Walhydra didn't mention in "The Dark, again" that Lammas is short for Loaf Mass, which is what the Christians renamed the Pagan harvest festival on August 1st.

Lammas, by lilcatty on deviantart.comIn the Irish Celtic tradition, this festival is Lughnasadh. Here's a bit from Chalice Centre for Celtic Spirituality and Western Inner Traditions:
The Celtic harvest festival on August 1st takes its name from the Irish god Lugh, one of the chief gods of the Tuatha De Danann, giving us Lughnasadh in Ireland, Lunasdál in Scotland, and Laa Luanys in the Isle of Man. (In Wales, this time is known simply as Gwl Awst, the August Feast.)

Lugh dedicated this festival to his foster-mother, Tailtiu, the last queen of the Fir Bolg, who died from exhaustion after clearing a great forest so that the land could be cultivated. When the men of Ireland gathered at her death-bed, she told them to hold funeral games in her honor. As long as they were held, she prophesied Ireland would not be without song.

Tailtiu’s name is from Old Celtic Talantiu, "The Great One of the Earth," suggesting she may originally have been a personification of the land itself, like so many Irish goddesses.

In fact, Lughnasadh has an older name, Brón Trogain, which refers to the painful labor of childbirth. For at this time of year, the earth gives birth to her first fruits so that her children might live.
Domi, one of my long-time Crone Thread friends, wrote the following reminder, in response to "The Dark, again":
Lughnasadh is a funeral—that's what Nasadh means, the funeral assembly of Lugh for his foster mother, during the nine days of the barley-harvest.

As we gather in the life-sustaining grain we hold the funeral games and feast, that Lugh consider her sufficiently remembered and honoured and not in his grief and rage manifest as storm-god and destroy the rest of the harvest before we can gather it all in.
This helps Walhydra to make sense of her August 1st experience each year, namely, her awareness of the "thinning of the veil."

Because it reminds Walhydra that around August 1st is the beginning of harvest. And for as long as humankind has relied upon the gift of cultivation, humankind has known that harvest is the beginning of the dying time of year.

The Earth gives her body to give us food.

We celebrate her funeral with games and dance and feast.

Knowing that we, too, will die and go back to the Earth.

Thank you, Domi,

and to all of you,
Blessed Be.


Note: Brian Friel wrote a play, Dancing at Lughnasa, which was made into a movie in 1998.

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