The beginning of August marks the first of three harvest times in the year’s cycle. Farmer’s markets and fruit stands are bursting with produce, and picnic tables everywhere are groaning under the weight of tomatoes, berries, and melons.
There is a wonderful article on the website of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (http://www.druidry.org/druid-way/teaching-and-practice/druid-festivals/lughnasadh/deeper-lughnasadh) about Lughnasadh (also called Lammas), if you’d like to read more about the history of the festival.
For me, the thing to pay attention to at Lughnasadh is the bounty of the fruits AND the ripening of the grain. In other words, one harvest is maturing and one is yet to come.
Is there work from the winter that you’ve done that is paying off now? What did you sow and what do you now reap?
What work is still to be done before you can enjoy the next harvest?
Happy May Day! In ancient times, people held festivals at this time of year to honor the earth’s fecundity. The Romans celebrated Floralia which honored the goddess Flora and the blossoming earth. The Germanic people also held festivals for flowers, fertility, and the lighter half of the year. While the actual date varies astronomically, the traditional date is May 1st.
One of the four Celtic fire festivals, Beltaine is marked by bonfires and celebrations for life, renewal, and fertility. Spelled a variety of ways and pronounced BEE-yul-TIN-yuh, this holiday was also considered a time when one could commune easily with the spirit world and with fairies.
The hawthorn tree plays a central role in traditional Beltaine festivities. In fact, the Celtic Druids likely chose the date for Beltaine based on when the hawthorn bloomed. The berries and flowers of the hawthorn are used to make heart and blood pressure medicines. And hawthorn trees are long-lived, have thorny branches, make very powerful wands, and are attractive to bees. (I will let you do the math and figure out why this tree is associated with a fertility holiday, then.)
Probably the most recognized Beltaine symbol is the Maypole. Young maidens would gather flowers, decorate the Maypole, and then wrap it with ribbons. There was often a symbolic marriage ceremony of the Queen of May to the Horned God, or the Lord of the Greenwood.
However you choose to celebrate the coming of Summer, I hope it is a joyous and fruitful time for you!
February 2nd is the ancient holiday of Imbolc. This celebration has survived in several forms, including Candlemas, St. Brigid’s Day, and Groundhog Day.
In the symbolism of the Old Ways, the Winter Solstice represented the end of the reign of the Holly King (the dark half of the year) and the coming of the Oak King (the light half of the year). Additionally, the Goddess has given birth to the infant Sun; light and longer days are on the way! Moving along the Wheel of Life and approaching Spring, then, Imbolc represents the fertility of the Goddess. She continues to raise the infant Sun, while also sustaining the new life within her.
At Imbolc, not only are we heralding the coming Spring and the accompanying growth, but we are also assessing our resources. Traditionally, this was the time when food and supplies were running low. Having survived the worst of the winter, we look forward to the coming of the Vernal Equinox and new growth.
We can continue to honor the meaning of Imbolc today by taking stock of ourselves. Much like our ancestors who had to see what stores remained in the pantry after a long winter, we can assess our own life. What has gone bad and needs to be tossed out? What do we have that is still viable?
Consider writing out a list of all that no longer serves you, whether it’s bad habits or fruitless projects. On February 2nd, remember Imbolc and burn the list, letting go of the old and welcoming the new. Get ready for your new growth!
Brighid, Celtic Goddess of Fire
(The information here was taken from “Llewellyn’s 2013 Sabbats Almanac,” available at www.llewellyn.com.)