The Rowan tree produces bright red berries at Lughnasdha and the first crops are harvested.
This year at this time many of us are tentatively re-emerging from a lock-down with still a lot of uncertainty before us.
This article explores the festival of Lughnasadha and the importance of our connection to the land. By connecting deeply with the land where you live you will find an incredible support system. We find that all life supports our existence just as our own life supports the system too. This concept is captured in the words of John Muir:
'No Sierra landscape that I have seen holds anything truly dead or dull, or any trace of what is called in manufactories is called rubbish or waste; everything is perfectly clean and pure and full of divine lessons. When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. '
Lughnasadha is often thought of as a festival dedicated to Lugh Lamfada (a key Celtic deity) but its true function is to celebrate his foster Mother Tailtiu who died after spending a year clearing a great plain to feed the people. It is therefore a celebration of agriculture and at this time the first harvest. A time to honour the sacrifice of the goddess of the land to feed her people. The foster-mother in Celtic society was held in great esteem and importance.
Bridgit was known as the foster-mother of Jesus in her form as a Christian Saint.
As we enter the season of Lughnasadha it is an opportunity to explore a key aspect of essential human need- the food we eat. At one time the food we eat would have come from the countryside around us, grown by the community ripened by the sun, picked by the hands that would eat it and grown in well-nurtured organic soil.
Nature dictated what crops were suitable for the conditions of a given area, alleviating the need for this constant questioning of what is good for us. We now pay for scientists to explore the chemical components of food to help us with our quest for good health and the obvious conclusion that a mixture of food in moderation covers most of our needs; that every food has benefits and disadvantages. However ancient lore points to the best food types are those grown in season.
What we eat, how it is grown and our expectation of foods being available all year round was explored in one of the oldest Irish stories! In the Second Battle of Moytura, the terms spoken between Lugh and Bres were very much about the best way to work the land. It clearly states that each season works for the production of food and to expect it out of season is to go against nature.
To set up schemes which look to improve the overall quality of food production seem to me far more effective than creating niche organic markets. Raising the standards of all foods and ensuring all crops are grown considering the welfare of wildlife and the welfare of all domestic animals is surely true progress, and much more needed than ploughing money into food research and intensive farming so that food can be grown all year round!
Here is an invocation to the land you may wish to use and although it is especially relevant to Ireland, these ancient Gaelic names can connect us to which ever land we live upon at this time, for they call to the deities of all Celtic lands which once stretched all across Europe and beyond. The main verses are adapted from the beautiful words of Eleanor Merry, an English poet with a deep connection with the Celtic twilight.
Eriu, Banba, Fodhla, I seek the land of Erin,
Fruitful be her seas, perpetually green her forest,
I feel her in my bones, I feel her in my blood.
Danu, soul of the ancient mysteries,
Wanders forever under the canopy of heaven,
Wrapped in her mantle of bluest aether,
And the vision of her calls every human heart.
Her shadow is the forgotten mysteries
And lives in the sadness of Celtic Twilight tales,
When hearts wake again to the longing for forbidden lands,
Or for the shining hosts of the Sidhe,
Or for the caves of the hoary sleepers.
The Celtic folk soul is the soul of a spiritual awakening,
The touch of a Woman of Beauty who will
Come into the hearts of men and women
Like a flame upon dry grass,
Like a flame of wind in a great wood.
Light a candle to honour the Mother earth who gives to us all without any reward; reflect on your actions this year.
Have you helped be a caretaker of the sacred land or have you taken without care?
What can you give back to earth, how can you lessen your impact?
Meditate on the beauty of nature and the role you play in her cycle. Breathe, be still and feel connected to the wonder of Nature. As you receive and give to the land feel the immense support of all the beings you share the earth with and when you are strong enough always remember to give back what you have received from the land and all its beings.
Wishing you all a fruitful Lughnasdha.
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Poetry of flowers
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