The Celtic Festival of Imbolc – 1st / 2nd February

1 02 2012

Imbolc is traditionally regarded as the first day of Spring.
Life is beginning to stir again. The Celtic festival of Imbolc or Imbolg – pronounced without the ‘b’ sound – is sometimes known as Oimelc, means ‘ewe’s milk’ – named due to the birth of the first lambs at this time, and celebrates the return of fresh milk. Sheep are earlier with their offspring than cattle, because they could crop lower for grass and so thrive on the sparse vegetation in late winter. Cattle would calf around March. Bulbs are beginning to shoot and new lambs are born – the cycle of new life returns to the earth. Imbolc marks the rebirth of nature and fertility. It is the celebration of the gradual dawning of increasing light, bringing nature to life again. Nature is awakening from her winter rest – the long winter darkness begins to break as the daylight hours begin to get longer. Christians celebrate this festival as Candlemas.Stonehenge maidens - Imbolc

“As the light lengthens, so the cold strengthens”

Maidens
Imbolc focuses on the Goddess, both as Mother – as she gave birth to the Sun God at the Winter solstice, and as the Maiden. Brigit was originally considered a form of the Triple Goddess.
Imbolc is a feast dedicated to the Goddess in her maiden aspect, in her guise as Brigid, Bridget, Bride, Brighid, Brigit or Brig – goddess of learning, poetry, prophesying, craftmanship, agriculture and healing. Imbolc is considered a traditional healing time and it is a good time to consider ways to improve your health.

Brigid is the virgin goddess who brings new life to the earth. She is known as Bride in Scotland – pronounced Breed – which is the origin of the word ‘bride’. Imbolc is also known as Bride’s Day. She was christianised as St. Bridget of Kildare, the patroness of sheep and fertility, and she was also known as the ‘Mother of Ireland’.
Briget’s Cross is woven from corn and consists of four arms that meet to form a square centre – a fire wheel.
Traditionally, on this day candlelit processions were led to St. Bridget’s holy shrines – wells

Imbolc Traditions

Imbolc is a ‘fire festival’. particular attention was paid to the hearth fire and keeping it alight.
A celebratory dish used to be made from the new lambs’ docked tails.

Bridie dolls are made out of a sheaf of oats and dressed in women’s clothing, and then ritually buried in the earth as a fertility rite. Another custom was to place the doll in a ‘Bride’s bed’ of woven wheat, like a basket, which was placed near the front door, or sometimes near the hearth. A white candle was burnt nearby all night.

Spring cleaning comes from the habit at Imbolc of getting rid of unwanted clutter and preparing for the new season, physically and mentally.
Now is the time to finish old habits and make a fresh start, and realise the world is full of new opportunities.

Imbolc is a time of optimism and for making new plans for the sunny days ahead. Plant the seeds of your plans now and tend them so they mature into your hopes and dreams. Now is the time to renew your New Year resolutions.

Like many Celtic festivals, the Imbolc celebrations centred around the lighting of fires. Fire was perhaps more important for this festival than others as it was also the holy day of Brigid (also known as Bride, Brigit, Brid), the Goddess of fire, healing and fertility. The lighting of fires celebrated the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months. For the Christian calendar, this holiday was reformed and renamed ‘Candlemas’ when candles are lit to remember the purification of the Virgin Mary.

Imbolc is still a special time for Pagans. As people who are deeply aware of what is going on in the natural world they recognise that there is strength in cold as well as heat, death as well as life. The Horned God reigns over the Autumn and Winter and although the light and warmth of the world may be weak, he is still in his power.

Many feel that human actions are best when they reflect the actions of nature, so as the world slowly springs back into action it is time for the small tasks that are neglected through the busy year. Rituals and activities might include the making of candles, planting spring flowers, reading poetry and telling stories.

Links: http://www.druidry.org/obod/intro/festivals.html
Link: http://www.new-age.co.uk

Merlin says “It is called Imbolc in the Druid tradition, or sometimes Oimelc. Although we would think of Imbolc as being in the midst of Winter, it represents in fact the first of a trio of Spring celebrations, since it is the time of the first appearance of the snowdrop, and of the melting of the snows and the clearing of the debris of Winter. It is a time when we sense the first glimmer of Spring, and when the lambs are born. In the Druid tradition it is a gentle, beautiful festival in which the Mother Goddess is honoured with eight candles rising out of the water at the centre of the ceremonial circle.”

Blog Sponsored by ‘Stonehenge Guided Tours’ www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin@ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Website





Stonehenge Winter Solstice is on 22nd December 2011

19 12 2011

For us in the northern hemisphere, the December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of 2011 and falls on Thursday, 22nd DecemberAfter the winter solstice, the days will get longer. Celebration time!

Stonehenge Winter Sunrise

Stonehenge Winter Sunrise

December 2011 solstice will occur on Wednesday, 21st December  at 11:30 p.m or 05:30am Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on December 22, 2011. It is also known as the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere due to the seasonal differences.

The date varies from December 20 to December 23 depending on the year in the Gregorian calendar. The 2012 December solstice will be on December 21, 2012, which is a speculated date for “the end of the world”.

Use the Seasons Calculator to find December solstice date in other time zones or other years.

Solstice and Stonehenge

At Stonehenge  on this day, people watch as the sun sets in the midst of three great stones – known as the Trilithon – consisting of two large vertical stones supporting a third, horizontal stone across the top.

In the case of Stonehenge, this great Trilithon faces outwards from the center of the monument, with its smooth flat face turned toward the midwinter sun. In fact, the primary axes of Stonehenge seems to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunset.

This Stonehenge monument – built in 3,000 to 2,000 BC – shows how carefully our ancestors watched the sun. Astronomical observations such as these surely controlled human activities such as the mating of animals, the sowing of crops and the metering of winter reserves between harvests. Stonehenge is perhaps the most famous of of the ancient astronomical monuments found around the world.

Stonehenge on Twitter.  For the latest Solstice information and all the latest Stonehenge news (including images live from the Stones) follow: http://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Stonehenge snow

Will it snow at Stonehenge this year ?

The December Solstice Explained

The December solstice occurs when the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. In other words, it is when the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun. Depending on the Gregorian calendar, the December solstice occurs annually on a day between December 20 and December 23. On this date, all places above a latitude of 66.5 degrees north are now in darkness, while locations below a latitude of 66.5 degrees south receive 24 hours of daylight.

The sun is directly overhead on the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere during the December solstice. It also marks the longest day of the year in terms of daylight hours for those living south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Those living or travelling south from the Antarctic Circle towards the South Pole will see the midnight sun during this time of the year.

On the contrary, for an observer in the northern hemisphere, the December solstice marks the day of the year with the least hours of daylight for those living north of the Tropic of Cancer. Those living or traveling north of the Arctic Circle towards the North Pole will not be able to see the sun during this time of the year.

What is the Winter Solstice?
The Winter Solstice is a magickal event, yet sadly, it is in the main a forgotten celebration. At this time, Christmas preparations are taking place, and the focus is primarily on ‘what colour scheme to go for?  Will the wrapping paper co-ordinate?  Have I forgotten anyone?  What shall we eat?  Will my funds stretch!’

The Solstice is however, the complete antithesis of what has now become Christmas in contemporary society. Also known as ‘Yule’, the Solstice is generally celebrated on the 21st of December, (although the astronomical date changes from year to year – this year the actual Solstice takes place on the 22nd, at 00.22a.m). The Winter Solstice is the shortest day, and longest night of the year, and is the traditional time to celebrate the truly important things in life: your family, your children, your home and looking forward to a wonderful year to come.

Yule is a time throughout time that honours love and new birth, as well as the collective unity of man. Just as Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, Yule celebrates the birth of the Sun God – child of the Goddess in the Pagan belief system. Yule is primarily the celebration of the rebirth of the Sun. Many people associate the Winter Solstice, or winter itself with death, as it is the season in which nature is dormant, and in which many plants die off and crops are scarce. Conversely, the Winter Solstice, although it is the longest night, (boasting more than 12 hours of darkness), it is also the turning point of the year, as following this night the sun grows stronger in the sky, and the days become gradually longer once more. Thus the Winter Solstice is also a celebration of rebirth, and there are many traditions that stem from this perspective.

Traditions:  Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe

The Holly and the Ivy

The holly and the ivy
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown.

Chorus:
Oh, the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The shining of the winter stars
As the longer days draw near.

The holly bears a blossom
As white as any flower
As our Mother bears the infant Sun
In the winter’s darkest hour.

Chorus

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood
As our Father bears the hunter’s spear
for His hungry children’s good.

Chorus

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn
As we shall bear our song of hope
On triumphant Yuletide morn.

Adapted by Hilda Marshal.

The tradition of bringing sprigs of Holly and Ivy into the home pays homage to the masculine and feminine elements. Both of these powerfully magickal plants are evergreen, a reminder in itself that the earth never dies, but merely sleeps during the winter months, (a tradition which was the precursor to our modern tradition of the evergreen Christmas tree). The male element is represented by the prickly holly; with its sexually potent red berries. The mistletoe is the female; entwining, gentle yet powerful. An alternative view of Holly is that the leaves of the plant represent the male, whereas the red berries symbolise the resting Mother Goddess, and life returning to the land.

The symbolism of Holly is especially potent. The Holly King and the Oak King are part of Celtic/Pagan mythology, and they represent two sides to the Greenman, or Horned God. Since the Summer Solstice, the Holly King has ruled the half-year of waning light, yet on this night the Oak King will take his throne to rule. In other words, the Oak King rules over the lighter half of the year, (Yule to Litha), and the Holly King over the darker half (Litha to Yule).

Another account of the Holly King and Oak King imagery is that they do not directly switch places twice a year, but rather both exist concurrently. The Oak King is born of the Goddess at Yule, growing in power through the spring, peaking at Beltane and then weakening through autumn until he dies at Samhain.
The Holly King however lives a reverse existence, and is born at Midsummer (Litha), increasing in strength throughout summer and autumn, reaching his zenith at Samhain. His sway then diminishes until it is his turn to pass at Beltane. Thus the two Kings enjoy a more elaborate sense of duality in this account, and it is perhaps a better illustration of their twofold nature, and their varying levels of influence throughout the year. As such they both have their characteristics. The reign of the Oak King is a time for growth, development, healing, and new beginnings. The Holly King’s time is for rest, reflection, and learning. Thus the Holly King is honoured with the boughs of Holly, and the Oak King is honoured with Mistletoe – the belief being that Mistletoe is best grown on the Oak as Mistletoe’s most powerful host, (a belief strengthened by the opinion of the 17th century herbalist, Culpepper). Ivy is representative of the Goddess; mother of both Kings, both Kings also being her consort – again powerful ideas of duality.

Mistletoe has a most compelling and influential history. According to ancient Druid tradition, Mistletoe was the most sacred of all plants. Mistletoe was used by the Druid priesthood in a very special ceremony; held five days after the New Moon following winter solstice. The Druid priests would cut Mistletoe from a holy Oak tree with a golden sickle. The branches had to be caught before they touched the ground. The priest then divided the branches into sprigs and dispersed them to the people, who hung them over doorways as protection. The folklore, and the magickal powers of this plant, have blossomed over time, although most are now forgotten. It was believed it had miraculous properties that could cure illnesses, antidote poisons, ensure fertility and protect against witchcraft. It was also a sign of peace and goodwill. When warring tribes came across Mistletoe, a temporary truce would be observed until the next day.

However, although Mistletoe carries a broad array of customs, and benefits in ancient times, the tradition which has lived on is that concerning fertility and love. According to most current day traditions, a young woman stands under the mistletoe and awaits her lover’s kiss. But from where did this tradition spring? It is considered that Mistletoe and kissing tradition is borne of a Norse myth.

The Norse god Balder was son of Frigga, goddess of love and beauty. She loved her son to such a degree that she had the four elements: Fire, Water, Air, and Earth- promise that they would not harm her son. However, Loki, an evil spirit, found the one thing that could defy this promise – mistletoe. He made an arrow from its wood, which was shot at Balder’s heart, and he fell dead, and Frigga’s tears became the mistletoe’s white berries. Balder is however, restored to life, and Frigga is so grateful that she reverses the reputation of the offending plant–making it a symbol of love and promising to bestow a kiss upon anyone who passes under it.

In the true spirit of Yule, focus your celebrations as a family upon love, and the fact that every ending is a new beginning. There are many simple rituals that you can enjoy as a family, to seal your bonds and celebrate each other at this magickal time of year.

Link: http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/december-solstice.html
Link: http://brighterblessings.co.uk/articles/yule.htm
Link: http://earthsky.org
Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/
Link: http://www.druidry.org/
Linj: http://www.phreak.co.uk/stonehenge/psb/stonecam.htm

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ – www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin says “Happy solstice everyone, see you at the Stones..”

Stonehenge on Twitter.  For the latest Solstice information and all the latest Stonehenge news follow: http://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Stonehenge Solstice Snow Globe, and other crap gifts

3 12 2011

Looking for that perfect ‘Stonehenge’ gift for a loved one this Christmas ? Look no futher I have sourced some real rubbish to waste your money on (see below)  My personal favourite is the tasteful  ‘Solstice Wall Mounted Sculpture.’  Tongue firmly in cheek

Stonehenge Solstice Sunset Snow Waterball Christmas Gift
Stonehenge Snow GlobePicture Print Of: A Fabulous Print of Stonehenge Solstice at Sunset…
Made from Clear Acrylic Wipe Clean Plastic with a Gold Coloured Base
Comes Filled with Water with Lot’s of Sparkly Silver & White Glitter Flec’s
When Shaken Will Give a Pretty Sparkling Snow Storm Effect
The Same Picture Image Can be Seen from Both Sides of Globe
This Waterball Would Make a Very Pretty Gift…

Merlin says: Every mantlepiece should have one (except mine)…………..


Mouse Mat
I Love Stonehenge Decorated Mouse Pad Click here:
Merlin says: How can you possibly use a comuter without one of these

 

 

 

STONEHENGE BELT BUCKLE

Stonehenge BeltHand painted buckle. Can also be used as an ornament with the supplied display stand. Suitable for detatchable snap-fit belts up to 1.5 inches wide (sold separately – of course) Click here

Merlin Says:  This will really pull the chicks (hmmm)

Its gets better…………………….
Stonehenge Wall hangingsStonehenge Summer Solstice Relief Wall Mounted Sculpture – Click here
This is a superb 3-dimensional wall sculpture portraying Stonehenge by Garry White. Measures 23cm by 21cm and stands off the wall by 5cm making a dramatic and eyecatching statement. This is a wall mounted plaque and comes ready to hang with a hook attached on the back. Made from poured stone which is stone dust bonded with resin resulting in a richly detailed piece with a high quality stone-like finish. Hand painted and individually finished by hand.

Merlin says: Hideous!  Losing the will to live

 

Stonehenge cuff linksStonehenge Cuff links – click here
Revisit the history with a unique cufflink with a picture of great historic landmark- Stone Henge on it. Stay connected to roots! Buy for yourself or present it to someone special. Comes wrapped in a beautiful gift box to add worth.

Merlin says: Classy!   Will match my Stonehenge socks (yes you can really buy Stonehenge socks)

 

Stonehenge Tax DiskStonehenge Solstice Sunset Car Tax Disc Holder – click here
Car Tax Disc-Licence Holder…
Design /Print: A Fabulous Print of Stonehenge Solstice at Sunset…
A Self Adhesive Top Quality PVC Vehicle Tax Disc /Licence Holder
Easy Peel Back Backing that Reveals a Clear PVC Outer Rim Around the Image When Removed
Photo /Image is Seen Inside the Vehicle As the Tax Must be Displayed & Seen from the Outside
Gift Packed in a Clear Polybag with Header Card at Top
All Our Licence Holders are Made Using the Highest Quality Materials Available and with Crystal Clear Images
A Perfect Gift… Or Your Own Special Treat!

Merlin says: Won’t be seen at the Solstice without one!

 STONEHENGE BIBBib with Stonehenge, boulders – Click here

  • Ergonomically designed for comfortable fit
  • Adjustable necklace for indivudual fit
  • Approved for food use
  • Washable

Size: 11.4″ x 7.8″

Merlin says: Whatever next – I give up…………….

Build Your Own Stonehenge (Running Press Mini Kits) – Click here
Build StonehengeAh Stonehenge. The mystical place where Tess is arrested in the heartbreaking climax of ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’. And of course where our colleague Simon passed out after a rather wild night at the Summer Solstice. Whatever your knowledge or experience of this legendary site, you can now own your own version of it.

Merlin says:
Got 60 seconds  and £5 to waste – nows your chance, buy one of these

Please visit our shop: http://astore.amazon.co.uk/stonetours-21
(there are also some good books etc avaialble – honest)

Any other tacky Stonehenge gift ideas ?

Merlin : Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





The Celtic Stonehenge: Eccentric builds replica of famous ruins on island off Irish coast

1 12 2011

He hit the headlines when he drove his cement mixer, emblazoned with the words ‘Toxic Bank Anglo’, into the gates of the Irish parliament.

Two months later, self-styled Anglo Avenger Joe McNamara was back in Dublin city centre, this time staging a protest from atop a cherry picker crane.  When he was later acquitted of criminal damage, he became a popular hero.

Now it looks as though the 42-year-old developer has gone stone mad.

For his latest stunt, he has built his own version of Stonehenge on a hilltop on Achill Island off the Mayo coast.

The 15ft high circle is 30m in diameter and almost 100m in circumference, with 39 standing stones and lintels.

What it does not have, however, is planning permission.

And the Anglo Avenger – or should that be the Achill Stonehenger – will have another day in court this Friday, when Mayo County Council seeks a High Court injunction against the megalithic structure.

 
Believed to be more than six months in planning, it was built during the course of a single weekend, starting last Friday.

Council officials visited several times and issued legal threats, but the work went ahead.

It is still not clear what the purpose of the structure is.

But if it is intended as another protest against bank bailouts, it is certainly the biggest and most conspicuous yet.

And it might even be more difficult to remove than the cement mixer and cherry picker.

Yesterday, Mr McNamara declined to comment on any aspect of the development.

A spokesman for Mayo County Council would only say: ‘The matter is the subject of ongoing enforcement proceedings’.

Full story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2068116/Anglo-Avenger-Joe-McNamara-builds-Stonehenge.html

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company ‘ www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Pagan stone circle built at US Air Force training academy

29 11 2011

The US military has built a stone circle in its Air Force academy to give pagans, druids and witches somewhere to practice their religion.

Stonehenge, UK: The Colarado base has spent around £50,000 building the Stonehenge-like structure

Stonehenge, UK: The Colarado base has spent around £50,000 building the Stonehenge-like structure


The Colorado base has spent around £50,000 building the Stonehenge-like structure to allow witches to cast spells, and pagans to form “circles of power” by night.

it is situated on top of a wooded hill and includes a fire pit.

The academy says it is for cadets who practice ‘Earth based’ religions including druids, witches and North American faiths.

Despite the expenses it is believed only three out of the 4,300 cadets have openly admitted that they are pagan.

Bob Barr, a former Republican congressman, campaigned to ban witches from the military, saying: “What’s next? Will armoured divisions be forced to travel with sacrificial animals for Satanic rituals? Will Rastafarians demand the inclusion of ritualistic marijuana cigarettes in their rations?”

The Wiccan religion was added to the US Army’s chaplain’s handbook in the 1970s and includes details on how covens are organised and how Druids worship ‘Mother Earth and Father Sky.’

“Most Wiccan groups also practise magic, by which they mean the direction and use of ‘psychic energy’ — those natural but invisible forces which surround all living things,” it explains.

The air force says the site is to help to protect the constitutional right to religious freedom.

But some think it is an attempt to attract more Wiccans to the army.

“Many men attracted to wicca are also attracted to this fantasy of the ancient warrior who is spiritually adept, but also a great fighter,” Margot Adler, a renowned witch and broadcaster, said.

The American Religious Identification Survey estimated that there were 700,000 pagans and wiccans in the US

US Army says Wiccan work it out

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Stonehenge Autumn Equinox 2011

22 09 2011
 The Autumn Equinox (also known as Mabon) is celebrated when day and night are of equal duration before the descent into increasing darkness and is the final festival of the season of harvest.  For many pagans, this is the time to reflect on the past season, and to recognize the balance of the year has changed.

 2011 Autumnal Equinox takes place on September 23rd, at 10.04am UK time (3.03 UTC), but when ‘open access’ to Stonehenge starts is decided by English Heritage and depends on visibility. The sunrise is at 6.48am.
autumn-equinox-stonehenge

Public access to Stonehenge is denied after dark, so if you want to see the sunset on September 22nd (18.59pm), you’ll have to stand on either the Avenue or on the side of the A344

The Autumnal Equinox

In September is the Fall Equinox, which has come to be called Mabon by many contemporary Neo-Pagans. Occuring approximately on September 21st, this is the day when the hours of daylight and nighttime are once again balanced. Calender days from now until the Winter Solstice will slowly get shorter and shorter in their daylight hours.

Agriculturally, this time of year the harvest is now in full swing, with late summer and fall fruits, vegetables and grains being gathered up before winter. This is the time of year a lot of canning or preserving of garden foods takes place. Hunting season also starts around this time, and this was when farmers would slaughter animals and preserve meat for the coming months as well.

This holiday is the last of the harvest holidays which began with the summer solstice and continued with Lammas.

23rd September Harvest time!
The Autumn Equinox or Harvest Home is also called Mabon, pronounced ‘MAY-bon’, after the Welsh god Mabon ap Modron, which means literally ‘son of mother’. Mabon appears in ‘The Mabinogion’ tale. The Druids call this celebration, Mea’n Fo’mhair, and honour The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to the trees. The Welsh know this time as ‘Alban Elfed’, meaning ‘light of autumn’. This is the point of the year when once again day and night are equal – 12 hours, as at Ostara, the Spring Equinox. The Latin word for Equinox means ‘time of equal days and nights’. After this celebration the descent into winter brings hours of increasing darkness and chiller temperatures. It is the time of the year when night conquers day. After the Autumn Equinox the days shorten and nights lengthen. To astrologers this is the date on which the sun enters the sign of Libra, the scales, reflecting appropriately the balanced day and night of the equinox. This was also the time when the farmers brought in their harvested goods to be weighed and sold.
Harvest festival This is the second festival of the season of harvest – at the beginning of the harvest, at Lammas, winter retreated to his underworld, now at the Autumn equinox he comes back to earth. For our Celtic ancestors this was time to reflect on the past season and celebrate nature’s bounty and accept that summer is now over. Harvest Home marks a time of rest after hard work, and a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of nature. This is the time to look back on the past year and what you have achieved and learnt, and to plan for the future. The full moon nearest to the Autumn Equinox is called the Harvest Moon and farmers would harvest their crops by then, as part of the second harvest celebration. Mabon was when livestock would be slaughtered and preserved (salted and smoked) to provide enough food for the winter. At the South Pole they will be celebrating the first appearance of the sun in six months. However, at the North Pole they will be preparing for six months of darkness. During Medieval times, the Christian Church replaced Pagan solstices and equinox celebrations with Christianized occasions. The Autumn equinox celebration was Michaelmas, the feast of the Archangel Michael.

The triple Goddess – worshipped by the Ancient Britons, is now in her aspect of the ageing Goddess and now passes from Mother to Crone, until she is reborn as a youthful virgin as the wheel of nature turns. At the Autumn equinox the goddess offers wisdom, healing and rest. Mabon Traditions The Wicker man There was a Celtic ritual of dressing the last sheaf of corn to be harvested in fine clothes, or weaving it into a wicker-like man or woman. It was believed the sun or the corn spirit was trapped in the corn and needed to be set free. This effigy was usually burned in celebration of the harvest and the ashes would be spread on the fields. This annual sacrifice of a large wicker man (representing the corn spirit) is thought by many to have been the origin of the misconception that Druids made human sacrifices. ‘The reaping is over and the harvest is in, Summer is finished, another cycle begins’ In some areas of the country the last sheaf was kept inside until the following spring, when it would be ploughed back into the land. In Scotland, the last sheaf of harvest is called ‘the Maiden’, and must be cut by the youngest female in attendance.
To Autumn O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit Beneath my shady roof, there thou may’st rest, And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe; And all the daughters of the year shall dance, Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers. William Blake Mabon is a time to reflect, as we reap the harvest of experience from the past year – the completion of another turn of the Great Wheel. Corn Dollies Corn dollies were also made from the last sheaf and kept in the house to protect the inhabitants from bad spirits during the long winter. Apples To honour the dead, it was also traditional at Mabon to place apples on burial cairns, as symbolism of rebirth and thanks. This also symbolizes the wish for the living to one day be reunited with their loved ones. Mabon is also known as the Feast of Avalon, deriving from the meaning of Avalon being, ‘the land of the apples’.

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge – The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Lugnhasadh – The Celtic harvest festival on August 1st

27 07 2011

Lugnhasadh, also known as Lammas, First Harvest

The name of this festival is Irish Gaelic for “Commemoration of Lugh”. Some authors give the meaning as marriage, gathering or feast (in the name of) of Lugh. The meaning remains basically the same: Lugh is the Deity of Lughnasadh, and there is a feast.

Although Lugh gives his name to this festival, it is also associated with Lugh’s foster mother Tailtiu, who is said to have cleared the way for the introduction of agriculture in Ireland, thus linking Lughnasadh to the land and the harvest.

The modern Irish Gaelic name for the month of August is Lúnasa. In Scottish Gaelic Lunasda means the 1st of August.

Silbury Hill

Silbury Hill -Wiltshire

One of several historic sources for the four Celtic fire festivals Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasadh und Samhain is the early medieval Irish tale “Tochmarc Emire” (The Wooing of Emer), which is part of the Ulster Cycle. In the form we know it today it was written in the 10th or 11th century CE, but it is safe to assume that this tale – like so many others – contains a much older nucleus.

The tale narrates how the hero Cú Chulainn is courting Emer. He receives several tasks to fulfill, one of them being that he must go without sleep for one year. As Emer utters her challenge, she names the four major points of the Irish-Celtic year, as they are also mentioned in other Irish sources. Doing this, she does not use the solar festivals, nor Christian ones, which were certainly well known and established by the 10th century. Instead Emer choses the first days of each season.

One of these days is Lughnasadh, marking the beginning of fall. It takes place on the 1st of August, a date internationally agreed upon, or on the day of the full moon next to this date, if you want to celebrate when the ancient Celts probably did.

Since the Celtic day started with sunset, the celebration takes place on the evening before the calendaric date.

Lughnasadh marks the begin of the noticeable descent of the Sun into the darkness of winter. From the connection between the Earth (female principle) and the Sun (male principle), the marriage of the Sky Father (Sun God) with the Earth Mother we celebrated at Bealtaine, emerge the fruits of the first harvest of the year. Lughnasadh is a time of joy about the first fruits. It is also a time of tension, because the dark days of winter are coming nearer, and most of the harvest is not brought in and stored away yet.

The God of the harvest is the Green Man (also known as John Barleycorn). He sacrifices himself every year in order to enable human life on Earth. In some areas his death is mourned with wreaths decorated with poppies or cornflowers.

The grain is cut, part of it goes into bread and nutrition, another part is stored away and used as seeds next spring, to create new life. Looking at that, thoughts about sacrifice, transformation, death and rebirth are also part of Lughnasadh.

The celebration of Lughnasadh includes the ritual cutting of the first grain and an offering thereof, possibly the making of a first meal and the ritual eating of it, as well as dancing. Fires are mentioned, but fire or light do not play such a prominent role as with the other fire festivals. This is probably because August is a warm month in most of Europe, with still long daylight hours, where no fire is needed. Lughnasadh celebrations are reported from Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall.

Another name used for Lughnasadh is “Lammas”, from the old-anglosaxon “hlaef-mass” (loaf mass, mass where the first loaf of bread is consecrated), which developed into the later medieval English and Scottish “Lammas”. As such it is first mentioned in old anglosaxon chronicles as early as 921 CE as “Feast of the First Fruits”. In an agricultural society the begin of the harvest was a natural occasion to celebrate and to give thanks to the Divine for Its gifts.

In Bavarian tradition, the most important festival in August is the “Ascension of Mary” on the 15th of August. On this day, numerous processions through the villages and along the fields are held. During these processions, decorated bundles of herbs, consisting of up to 77 different herbs, are carried along on wooden sticks. These herbs are specially consecrated and stored away then. They are used for ritual incense burning later in the year, e.g. during the “rough nights”, the time of the winter solstice. An older name for this festival is “Maria Kräuterweih”, meaning “Day of Mary and the Consecration of Herbs”.

The beginning of fall was marked by the day of St. Bartholomäus (Bartholomew) on August 24th.

The original Lughnasadh customs have obviously shifted to August 15th and additionally into numerous local and regional harvest celebrations. Lughnasadh is the therefore only one of the eight Celtic festivals which did not survive in Bavaria as a compact celebration ON or near the original date (August 1st). Harvest celebrations are instead dispersed over all of August. This might have to do with the geographical situation of Bavaria, where August tends to be a rather warm month, and harvest and fall are a bit later than elsewhere.

The Deities of Lughnasadh are Danu (Anu), the Mother of Gods and Men, and Lugh, the patron of scholars, craftsmen, warriors and magicians. Lugh is also known as Lugh Samildánach (the Many Skilled) and Lugh Lámhfada (Lugh with the Long Arm). It is disputed among authors whether this refers to Lugh’s magical spear or to the rays of the Sun. Lugh seems to have been worshipped, like his Greek and Roman correspondences Hermes and Mercury, mostly on elevations, hills or mountaintops.

The plant of Lughnasadh is any form of grain or corn, in a wider sense every fruit of field and garden.

The meaning of Lughnasadh on the inner planes is the start of the harvest of the fruits that we have sown in spring. Which things or projects are reaping in us in the moment? What would we like to finish, what to start anew? Do we have the insight that to every harvest there is a necessity of preparation?

The essence of Lughnasadh is the joy of life under the knowledge that darker times are moving in. We take in the warming rays of the Sun and store their power for the times coming. At the time we celebrate the next festival, Alban Elfed, it will be fall and the warm summer days will already be a memory.

Of course Lughnasadh is a very good time to express gratitude to the Gods and the Earth Spirits for their blessings and gifts that we are now receiving. In times of microwave and frozen pizza it may seem anachronistic to thank for the harvest. Many of our modern food stuffs make it hard to still recognize the waving grain on the field in them. And yet there is a way to connect with nature via the food that we eat. This is especially valid for self-harvested fruits. But also conscious eating, eating with focus on the food and not on TV or newspaper, is one way of expressing our thanks for the harvest – all year round, but especially at Lughnasadh.

Links:
http://www.mythinglinks.org/Lammas.html
http://www.chalicecentre.net/lughnasadh.htm

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ – www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin at Stonehenge (I will be at Avebury Stone Circle this year for Lammas)
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website








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