Living the Celtic Year – An Introduction
By Debbie and Steve Merritt
For thousands of years the indigenous peoples around the world have lived their lives around the seasons. Many of these formed the spiritualities or religions of the people. As the seasons changed, the focus of their lives changed, such as resting and mending or making in the winter, and harvesting towards the end of summer. Our farmers and gardeners follow a modified year today, and more and more of us, as we turn to nature for solace and inspiration, mark the turning of the year with ceremonies and festivities.
Steve and I intend to hold seasonal ceremonies throughout the year, open to all who come in peace, children are especially welcome (accompanied by an appropriate adult).
Lughnasadh or Lammas 31st July/1st August
Lughnasadh (Lunasda in Scottish Gaelic) or Lammas is one of the four fire festivals and falls roughly equidistantly between the astrological festivals of Summer Solstice, and Autumn Equinox. It celebrates the first or ‘grain’ harvest, when the first loaf made of this years grain is made and ‘sacrificed’. Historically to offer your first bread for possibly many months, to your deity, would have been a real sacrifice.
Lugh, or Lug (for whom the festival is named) in Irish legend was a leader of the Tuatha De Danann (the peoples of the Goddess Dana). Lugh was known as a sun god, a god of agriculture and a fierce warrior.
Like the other fire festivals, the date can be somewhat fluid. Although today, for convenience, we may celebrate in the few days either side of traditional date, historically, the celebration would truly be on the day that the first bread was baked. We all know how fickle the weather can be, it doesn’t work to dates, so the first harvest could be a week or two before or after the date that we would celebrate today.
So when we have our ceremony, we will be giving thanks for our own personal harvest, which may be the produce from our gardens, new friends made, your pension (!), a new baby/grandchild, moving to a new home, a return to good health. You get the idea.
Like at other festivals we can celebrate in many ways. Some people make offerings of a little bread and wine/mead to the creatures (or deity’s) outdoors. Steve and I, as Druids, will celebrate with a ceremony with our friends, and some to be friends! After the ceremony there will be some music, storytelling, feasting and socialising.
We will be running a (socially distanced) workshop about Lughnasadh, followed by a ceremony, on Sunday 1st August, you can find more information at Spiritual Arran Workshops on Facebook . Numbers will undoubtedly be limited depending on the relevant Covid restrictions.