fly past and already in the northern hemisphere we are galloping away from
that moment when the sun was at her or his height at Midsummer, towards
the festival of the first harvest. In the southern hemisphere on the other
side of the wheel of the world you are getting ready to greet the early
spring in your ritual calendar and moving away from Midwinter.
harvest time at the end of July and the beginning of August is for me not
a time of the powerful sun gods riding across the sky in their golden
chariots but the much more hands on sun mothers, making sure the workers
in the fields get their dinner and that nobody is treading on the sleepy
appear in hot and cold lands alike. In one Australian Aboriginal legend
from the Wotjobaluk tribe of Victoria, Australia, the Sun Mother carries a
bark torch through the skies each day and returns to the west each evening
to feed her waiting infant.
In the folk
customs of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, the solar Goddess, Saule, Queen
of the Heavens and Earth, dressed and crowned with gold, is still in folk
tradition, said to drive her shining chariot across the skies and to walk
among the people to bless the growing fields. In winter, Saule dances with
her daughters, the planets, in defiance of the darker days. Throughout the
year, Saule scolds her lazy husband Menulis the Moon who will not keep up
with her and disappears for three days each month.
Basque region of Northern Spain, the sun is still revered in folk lore as
Grandmother Sun. Her worship has been transferred to the Virgin Mary who
is associated with mother Mari, the Storm Goddess in whose wise bosom
Grandmother Sun sleeps at night
Japanese Sun Goddess Amaterasu Omigami was the chief deity or kami, deity
of nature. She is compassionate and wise. However because Amaterasu is
all-seeing and all-knowing, occasionally the behaviour of humanity makes
her temporarily despair and she returns to her sun cave, causing an
one of the Sun Mother of the Celts, linked with fertility, healing,
goddess of cattle and corn and the cycles of the solar and lunar year, for
she was also a moon goddess. The top of her sacred hill in Munster, in
Ireland, like that of the hill of her sun sister Grainne in Leinster, was
the scene for torchlight processions and bonfires at the Summer Solstice
and again at the first grain harvest at the beginning of August.
the sun in our lives, even on cloudy days
reminded on sunny summer days of a line from the I Ching Oracle. Be not
sad; be as the sun at midday. Being as the sun at midday means
enjoying very moment, not fretting about what went wrong or we did not
achieve or worrying about the future as yet unmade. It is hard to always
be like the sun at midday especially if it is a cloudy midday actually or
emotionally. Then you have to push your way through doom and gloom and you
may feel more like retiring to bed and drawing the curtains on the world
rather than being little Miss or Master Sunshine.
For me as
we approach the first harvest Lughnassadh there is lots in my personal
harvest that is not yet ripe and other crops I planted that are past their
sell by date or never took root at all!
But it is
important to focus on what is of worth and what has been achieved, usually
more than you thought possible. You may be moving into the early spring in
the southern world with a chance to plant again maybe more wisely.
Alternatively like me you may be getting out the secateurs to cut back the
garden gone wild with alternate sun and rain. Wherever you are and
whatever your seasonal call, stop to enjoy any moments of sunshine and
It is hard
for me with my puritanical work ethic and all too real Work Mountain to
enjoy relaxing and not to count only what I have actually produced in
terms of readings, articles and book chapters, my external harvest, as
being of worth. The precious weekend moments with my family now grown up
and scattered, watching the badgers that come to the back door every night
as darkness falls, or sitting and listening to the bird song and seeing
the moon rising over the trees are all of worth and are a different kind
of harvest but equally valuable. I know this in my heart if not in my
whirling always desperately trying to catch up mind and practical life.
really do go faster as you get older as my late mother used to say. I
never believed her when I was a bored teenager, wishing away the present
for some idealized golden tomorrow that when it came, seemingly flashed by
in an eye blink as if viewed from a high speed express train.
time at this first harvest to reflect not on what did not grow or what
will not now bear fruit but what you have achieved since the last
harvest and what you still can create in golden moments however small. For
gathered together like sunbeams those special moments can generate a lot
of light to keep you optimistic and on track when the clouds of daily
pressures do descend.
If you live
in the southern hemisphere especially if it is warm and dry, you can
incorporate parts of Lughnassadh into you mirror festival of Imbolc, the
fire in the belly of the mother, the fire that will melt the last signs of
winter. So too in the northern hemisphere we can think about what we
planted at our own early spring festival could still grow even if a little
later than anticipated, given extra attention and faith in ourselves.
Lughnassadh/Lammas, 31 July –August 2
natural justice or karma, human and personal rights issues, freedom from
abuse of any kind; for partnerships, both personal and legal or business,
for signing contracts or property matters; promotion and career
advancement and the regularizing of personal finances; for holidays
and journeys to see friends and family or on business and the renewal of
promises, loyalty and fidelity; also willing sacrifice for a long term
gain or made in love, trusting the cosmos to provide by giving without
seeking immediate return; also for all matters concerning people in their
forties and fifties.
Transformation / bread
of the season: Waning
Any straw object such as a corn dolly, a corn knot or a straw hat or a
straw animal tied with red ribbon, harvest flowers such as poppies or
cornflowers (they can be silk or dried), a container of mixed cereals,
dried grasses or long ears of grain, stones with natural holes; bread and
Alder or redwood
flower and herbs:
Cedarwood, cinnamon, fenugreek, ginger, heather, myrtle, poppies and
sunflowers, any dark yellow, deep blue or brown-gold flowers.
Golden brown or dark yellow.
Fossilized wood, dark yellow and any brown jasper, banded agates,
greenstone, mookaite, Botswana agate, titanium aura, fossils
Home made bread, milk, cereal products, elderberry and
fruit wines, strawberries, berry pies and fruit juices, potato soup,
Sachiel. Archangel of the grain harvest and of abundance. He wears robes
of deep blue and purple, carrying sheaves of corn and baskets of food with
a rich purple and golden halo and blue and purple wings
Goddess of the festival.
Eriu\Macha as Irish goddess of the Land. She accepted the remaining power
of Lugh or Llew as Sun and Grain god so that the remaining crops would
ripen. He then offers to die and return his body to the land to ensure the
continuing success of future harvests
Place on the Wheel:
This is the
festival of the first grain harvest.
promises to defend and die for the land. The Sun/Grain god is willingly
cut down in the form of the last sheaf of grain to be harvested and his
spirit descends into the earth, back into the mother’s womb, to be reborn
on the Midwinter celebration as the infant Sun King.
In both the
pre Christian and Christian tradition called Lammas or Loaf mass a loaf
baked from the first harvested sheaf was offered on the altar.
15, at the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven, in
Celtic influenced lands a bannock was made from bread and milk to be
broken by the father of the household and given to the family to ensure
sufficient bread throughout the year on the family table (and his
willingness to work to provide it. Obviously these days the woman equally
assumes the role of provider for herself and a family if she has one.
Ways of Marking the Festival in the Modern
your own bread on Lughnassadh Eve, either with yeast or from a mix in
the shape of a figure who can either represent the Grain\Corn Spirit or
the Grain Mother. Add milk to the mix and as you stir the mix in turn
with friends and family or alone, make wishes for abundance and the
harvest you wish to reap during the coming months. Ask also if
appropriate for suitable employment.
bread is cooked, eat or share it and name the transformations you seek
in your life/the world. At dawn put out any remaining crumbs for the
extra bread or fruit pies to give to neighbours and colleagues who maybe
live alone and may not cook for themselves often.
an area of weeds or overgrown grass in your garden or tidy up indoor
plants. Alternatively spend a day on an organised project clearing local
wilderness, to symbolically generate the energies to clear your way
ahead in your life and relationships.
orange candle every evening if possible for a week around the festival.
Sprinkle a pinch of salt in the flame to let go of any injustice that
cannot be put right but which needs to be released from your mind to set
a small pinch of dried sage to the flame and name a blessing however
small or an unexpected kindness you have received in the previous few
months. At the end of the week, make a practical gesture or spoken small
blessing to someone who does not merit it
Alternatively if you feel you have been unjustly treated and cannot put
matters right, knot dried grasses or pluck the petals of a dying flower,
one for each injustice and cast them into running water or bury them,
planting late flowering seeds or autumn flowers.
or dried grasses to create corn knots and corn mother figures (with
featureless head, arms, body and legs) tied with red and blue threads.
Hang them in the home through the winter to bring protection and burn
them on the first Monday after Twelfth Night (January 6) or on next
year’s Spring Equinox fires.
want to make a Corn spirit, make an abstract shape using ears of corn
tied together. Burn him in your Lughnassadh festival bonfire and scatter
some of the ashes in your garden or on indoor plants to bring abundance
to the home during the winter ahead.
journeys to see friends and relations or write or telephone, making
definite plans to meet, as this is a time when tribes would get together
before the long winter. Try to take an impromptu weekend away to fill
you with energy for the coming months,
final effort to resolve an unfair official or neighbourhood dispute or a
disagreement over an inheritance or property matter, if necessary by
changing tactic or the person representing you.
are in love, make a commitment as this was the time when couples would
pledge themselves for a year and a day. Alternatively if things are not
working decide if you can make one last all out effort to salvage the
relationship or if you want to use this cleansing time to move on at
least in your own mind. Cast dying flowers into your festival bonfire
and ask for renewal and afterwards pick any flowers growing or buy
yourself a flowering plant to symbolise new love, maybe loving yourself
for the first time.
do not think of the first harvest as a step towards the waning of the
light but look across the wheel to the southern hemisphere to the growth
of the springtime and realise both are happening at the same time. Soon we
will be rising up the wheel again and planting the next lots of seeds.
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK.....from July 31st 2011
Happy Lughnassadh to our friends in the northern hemisphere and
Happy Imbolc in the southern world.
Lughnassadh, the willing sacrifice of the grain god and Imbolc, fire
in the belly of the maiden, are mirror festivals starting at the end
On the Wheel of the World the twin themes of the harvest sacrifice and
abundance and of the revival of the land after winter to bear fruit
six months later or half a world away revolve continuously.
Planting our personal seeds, tending them in good times and harsh, in
bounty and aridity ensures we may have enough for our needs and a
little more at harvest time. We need not sacrifice our dreams as the
grain god lays down his life for next year’s growth, but rather give
up what is not good for us or constantly worrying over for what never
can be or can be no more.
What do we have and what do we need? At the first harvest, focus on
what you really desire and the sacrifices you are able or willing to
make for your dreams. If life seems unfair reach across the wheel to
Brigit melting sorrows with her willow wand and let fears, obstacles
and doubt melt away.
Can you trust again, can you ask of others what you need? Are you
prepared to sacrifice certainty for trust?
Light twin white and golden yellow candles for Imbolc and Lughnassadh
and say, I reach out in the trust my needs will be met and I free
myself from what holds me back from fulfilment.
Scatter a few grains of sage or rosemary in each flame and leave the
candles to burn, make plans for your future and say goodbye for what
can or should be no more.
Scatter the rest of the seeds outdoors for the birds to eat or to take
root as is destined.
May you always have abundance, Cass and
Debbie, July 31, 2011