- June 28, 2020 at 1:34 am #11283
Lughnasad will be here soon, I think that Lugh is the Sun God, so this is August 1st. This is a time to honor craftsmen. But what else. Who is the Goddess of this celebration? Could this also belong to Danu. the great earth mother, Danu, herself. That is what I feel like it is. This is a very important day to the druids. A day of poetry, music, fun and honor of the sun god and mother earth goddess herself. It is a time for fairs. And it is a time of the first harvest. Most magical time. . So those are the two I am going with. It is the most druidry day of the year.June 28, 2020 at 9:16 am #11284
Well, following the Irish/Gaelic traditions, Lúnasa, was a harvest festival, assembly and hosting of games held in honour of Tailte, the foster-mother of Lugh of the Tuatha Dé’. Throughout the British Isles and Ireland, the August-September period was, logically, the time of harvest festivals. You might also be interested in South-Western British traditions known as “crying the neck”, involving corn dollies and the cutting of the last sheaf of wheat or barley. In Cornwall this was followed by the festival of Guldize (Goel dheys).
/|\June 28, 2020 at 9:54 am #11285david pooleParticipant
John Barleycorn of course. I think that John Barleycorn is the deity I have seen most associated with Lughnasadh. This means a time of celebration but also of sacrifice; we must offer the best of our harvest. This would connect this festival with wheat or barley, and with drinking. Ceres or Demeter I think are goddesses associated with the harvest. In the Welsh tradition I think that Llew Llaw Gyffes is the symbolic sun god. I would guess that that would connect the eagle with the Sun, although I don’t know if that is appropriate. I have always had a very good feeling around Lughnasadh, more so than around any other festival.June 28, 2020 at 10:54 am #11288
You might be interested in exploring the Anglo-Saxon mythos surrounding Beowa (Barley) the grandson of Sceafa (Sheaf) found in Old English literature. I believe some have linked it to John Barleycorn. However, the interesting thing is that whereas John Barleycorn is obviously male, the traditions in the West Country have corn dollies, or corn spirits, which are female. The Irish/Gaelic festival remembers Tailte, female, who died of exhaustion from making Ireland suitable for agriculture after the taking of the land by the Tuath Dé – there again a female association (perhaps).
The Gaulish solar divinities appear to be masculine, like Greek and Roman ones and also the Vedic Sūrya, whereas the British and Irish divinities we know of appear to be feminine – Sulis (Minerva) in Bath coming to mind, and the Irish/Gaelic word for sun is feminine if I’m not mistaken. This is also found in Baltic tradition, where Saulė (sun) is feminine. In Germanic traditions Sól or Sunna is also feminine. Basque and Sámi traditional beliefs also feature a female solar divinity. It makes me wonder if there hasn’t been some mixing of two different traditions going on here – an earlier one with a later one.
/|\June 28, 2020 at 3:59 pm #11289
Great answers David and Dowgri, I do wonder about, Tailte, and how she plays into all of this, It does seem to be some kind of harvest festival, but does the harvest come then or later, I mean it is only the 1st of August, and would they be bringing in the crops at that time. I think it may be a little later, but I may be way wrong. But, the next festival would be the fall equinox, which is still too early for the apples to come in. Food was a big deal back then because there was no refrigeration and no grocery stores. And is the John Barleycorn a more modern celebration that has been added to the Lunasa just because people like to drink, and need a little barleycorn. I wonder. if I am right, beer does take some time to ferment, probably at least two weeks. And distillation was not something the early Celts would have known about, because all that came much later. I also feel it is a time for poetry and song, so I am starting to think this would be a time for Bridget, or maybe even Ceridwen to be celebrated. I see Ceridwen as the great grain goddess. Also, I don’t think we know a lot about Danu, she seems to have just melted into time. Are the corn dollies made at this time? My take is that the druids are associated with the sun, but I wonder if they really worshiped the sun as a god. So much is lost, and we are trying to piece together a lost religion based on our modern perspective. Plus, we have morals and ideas of human rights, which I am not sure were the same back then. For me, I do not like anyone hurting animals or violating another’s basic human rights. Further, though I am tolerant, I am not tolerant of any religion that preaches hate or violence, or violates humans basic rights or now even animals rights. And companies like Monsantos should not have the right to patent grains. Maybe this should be a day we stand up for the rights of farmers to not have to buy or plant genetically engineered grain. We just can’t be completely passive to everything and tolerate all the evil. So now I am going with Lugh as the god of this holiday, and Ceridwen as the Goddess, I feel that she deserves a holiday in her honor. and it does seem that Taliesin got his love of poetry from her, and poets love beer. Although I now just drink tea and have a few herbal cookies once in a while. Further, I am not quite sure how Lugh got turned into the sun god. I feel the sun god is probably the sun and that starts to get very pagan. lots to figure out, BlueFalconJune 28, 2020 at 6:00 pm #11290
Are the corn dollies made at this time?
Traditions may vary from place to place and in time, but the tradition I’m familiar is this: the corn doll was made from the last sheaves of wheat or barley cut; this was then kept in the kitchen over the hearth until the time of ploughing and sowing when it was ploughed back into the land. My grandmother had them in her kitchen when I was little and they were on the wall above the oven and stove along with some copper pots and pans. I also remember a rhyme when planting seeds of any kind of edible plant (obviously at new or waxing moon): “one for the worm, one for the crow, one to rot and one to grow”, so, for every three seeds “sacrificed” one was to grow. I don’t know how far back these traditions go, but I think as folklore they may well go back a long time.
/|\June 28, 2020 at 11:34 pm #11291
thanks Dowrgi, that is really interesting about your grandmom’s folk tradition. Wow, people really were closer to the land. In some ways I think that is what Ross Nichols was trying to do with bringing back druidry. I think he was trying to get us all to be closer to nature and the land, and respect the spirit of the land more. There were lots of changes in our grandmoms’ time and there are a lot of changes now in our time. Even things like just planting a pot of mint or basil can help us reconnect. Nature is awesome. Best WilliamJune 29, 2020 at 12:45 am #11292
Lughnasa is perhaps the most obscure of all the eight festivals of the neo-Pagan year. Unlike Halloween for example, the average person outside of the Pagan community has probably never heard of it – even in Ireland where it survives as Lúnasa, the month of August. It takes its name from Gaelic and means the násad (games or an assembly) of Lugh, a Celtic deity. Lughnasa was recorded in Mediaeval times as one of the four festivals of the old Celtic year (the others being Samhain on November 1st, Imbolc on February 1st and Beltane on May 1st). In modern Pagan literature, Lughnasa is usually described as the festival that marks the start of the harvest. While it is clear that Lughnasa coincides with the first cutting of the corn, the legends of the god Lugh seem to have no immediately obvious harvest connections apart from the fact he is said to have instituted funeral games in honour of his foster mother Tailtiu, who died clearing a great plain. The cult of Lugh was a latecomer into Ireland, introduced by Gaulish or British refugees fleeing from the advancing Roman armies. The name Tailtiu is not Irish in origin but from the Welsh telediw, which means ‘well-formed’. Lugh is often described as a pan-Celtic deity and identified with the continental Lugus, Lud in England and Llew in Wales. His name is probably related to the Proto-Celtic *lug- meaning ‘oath’, and all the indications are that he was neither a god of agriculture nor the sun, as is often claimed.
Mason, Paul; Franklin, Anna . Lughnasa (The Eight Festivals Book 2) (Kindle Locations 304-310). Lear Books. Kindle Edition.
The central part of Lugh’s story is the rivalry between him and his grandfather Balor and the battle for supremacy and kingship between the Tuatha de Danaan and the Formorians. The pattern of Lugh’s tale is a common mythic theme and begins with a prophecy that the grandson (or son) of the king will overthrow him. The king takes the precaution of locking his daughter up in a tower, but she manages to meet a lover and gives birth to a son. The king then sets his daughter and grandson adrift in a basket or chest in a river or on the sea, expecting both to die. However, the two are saved and after some time in exile the young prince returns to overthrow the old king. There could be various explanations as to what the story means: the old grandfather may be the setting sun, or the dying sun of winter or autumn, while the young man represents the dawn sun or spring-summer sun; the old king may be the old year and the young
prince the new; they may represent seasonal gods – when one season grows old a new season succeeds it; the old god may represent the forces of blight and winter that have to be overcome by the spring, or a fresh force may have to supplant a corrupt regime.
Mason, Paul; Franklin, Anna . Lughnasa (The Eight Festivals Book 2) (Kindle Locations 317-319). Lear Books. Kindle Edition.
In England, the first day of August was known as Lammas, probably from the Anglo-Saxon hlaef-mass meaning ‘loaf-mass’. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 921 CE mentions it as ‘the feast of first fruits’, as does the Red Book of Derby. It was a popular ceremony during the Middle Ages but died out after the Reformation, though the custom is being revived in places. It marked the time when the first of the grain crop was gathered in, ground in a mill and baked into a loaf.
Mason, Paul; Franklin, Anna . Lughnasa (The Eight Festivals Book 2) (Kindle Locations 332-336). Lear Books. Kindle Edition.June 29, 2020 at 6:49 am #11293
… So now I am going with Lugh as the god of this holiday, and Ceridwen as the Goddess …
I think we need to be cautious here. Lúnasa is an Irish/Gaelic festival, there’s little evidence that it was a pan-Celtic festival and I think we ought to be careful about jumping to conclusions because other cultures had harvest festivals too, I mean, at what other time of year in the Northern Hemisphere are you going to celebrate the harvest? Coincidence is not correspondence. Moreover, the Irish literature seems to indicate that this was somehow a newer festival or at least a new name for the older festival of Bron Trogain (see: Acallam Na Senorach or The Colloquy of the Old Men).
The next issue might be with associating Ceridwen, a figure from Welsh bardic tradition, with an Irish/Gaelic tradition. Furthermore, there’s reason to doubt that Ceridwen was ever considered a goddess by the ancient Britons and she does not figure at all in Gaelic tradition. If we must consider Ceridwen to be “divine” in some way, then we’re talking about a muse, a poet’s divinity, not really a goddess of fertility. The ancient Britons and Gauls had localised fertility goddesses and some of their names have come down to us: Nantosuelta, Rosmerta and Damona, for example, yet nothing similar to Ceridwen has ever shown up. All in all, it seems that Samhain or the Feast of Mongfind (the witch-queen of Tara) was important in the ancient Gaelic world and May Day (Bealtaine) was important in British (Brythonic) tradition, but in neither Celtic traditions is Lúnasa particularly “spiritual”, “mystical” or arcane. Having said all this and seeing as Lúnasa is an Irish/Gaelic festival and Irish literature and tradition have indicated what it’s about, why not stick with Lugh and Teilte? I think ascribing a “god” and a “goddess” to a ritual is more of a Wiccan tradition, I’m not sure how much it fits in with Celtic spirituality, although I stand to be corrected on that one.
As an aside, Frazer (The Golden Bough) wrote a lot about these subjects and so did Graves, whence a lot of so-called modern Celtic spirituality, however, there are strong reasons to be wary of these materials as Frazer’s scholarship has not been without criticism and The White Goddess, great read and fine poetry as it is, is not much use in terms of genuine Celtic scholarship.
/|\June 29, 2020 at 9:47 am #11295david pooleParticipant
In regards to Ross Nichols, that is a very interesting story. Nichols was a life long Christian and member of the Universalist Church, Gerald Gardner was interestingly a member of another church and I think George Watson McGregor Reid was as well. I don’t really know anything about Universalism but Nichols remained an adherent up to his death and regularly attended services. So what exactly was he trying to do and what exactly did he believe in? Are some sects of Christianity inherently compatible with paganism? Personally Jesus is not someone who I believe in and I would rather worship Nature. I wonder how Nichols managed to reconcile both of his faiths.
I tried reading the White Goddess but was not very impressed with it and have not gotten very far; I have read far more books since then. It does not appear to be a particularly well researched or disciplined book. I am very suspicious of it all round. I must get around to reading the Golden Bough, to me this feels like a far more tempting proposition.
It is somewhat ironic that the actions of a leader or king can trigger the very series of events which can lead to their downfall, in a kind of self fulfilling prophecy. By heading the prophecy’s words they basically make it come true, whereas before they would never would have known and it might never have happened at all.
In pre Christian pagan tradition it was believed that the spirit of the corn lived among the grain and that harvesting effectively made it homeless. See The Golden Bough, Corn Mother and Corn Maiden in Northern Europe (this book is already looking better than Graves, luckily I have it with me report later!) The corn spirit was customarily attached to the last sheaf of the harvest, where it would remain throughout winter until it was ploughed into the first furrough of the new season.
According to Frazer,
“In the neighbourhood of Danzig the person who cuts the last ears of corn makes them into a doll, which is called the Corn-mother or the Old Woman and is brought home on the last waggon. In some parts of Holstein the last sheaf is dressed in women’s clothes and called the Corn-mother. It is carried home on the last waggon, and then thoroughly drenched with water. The drenching with water is doubtless a rain-charm. In the district of Bruck in Styria the last sheaf, called the Corn-mother, is made up into the shape of a woman by the oldest married woman in the village, of an age from 50 to 55 years. The finest ears are plucked out of it and made into a wreath, which, twined with flowers, is carried on her head by the prettiest girl of the village to the farmer or squire, while the Corn-mother is laid down in the barn to keep off the mice. In other villages of the same district the Corn-mother, at the close of harvest, is carried by two lads at the top of a pole. They march behind the girl who wears the wreath to the squire’s house, and while he receives the wreath and hangs it up in the hall, the Corn-mother is placed on the top of a pile of wood, where she is the centre of the harvest supper and dance.”
Corn Dollies have been around for thousands of years with some designs dating back to around 4000 BCE; carvings on old tombs in Egypt date back even further, to around 6000 BCE.June 29, 2020 at 11:25 am #11298
I’ve read The Golden Bough. I’d exercise the same caution with it as I would with The White Goddess. Frazer’s work is not really considered to be that great for comparative religion and many of his ideas have long been discarded by anthropologists and ethnologists alike.
George Watson MacGregor Reid was a bit of a mysterious figure. He was the chief of The British Circle of the Universal Bond, which still exists today as the The Druid Order (An Druidh Uileach Braithreachas). They have a website and there’s some information online too.June 29, 2020 at 3:52 pm #11300
I would not trust anything Frazer wrote, but I give him an A on effort, and an A on whimsical. Ceridwen is the mom of Taliesin, so I don’t see how she is not to be considered as a goddess in druidry. In Scotland, where the harvest was latter, Lunasa was celebrated around the 15th of August. And Sir John Barleycorn was always a part of it, fir he is the spirit of the green corn. Now look, there is lots of argument over who Ceridwen is, and the scholars love to say that she is not a part of the Celtic Pantheon, but I disagree, and some of the stuff I know just comes from past lives and pure intuition, like so much magic. It really gets down to, each druid is going to have to decide for himself or herself about who Ceridwen is until some famous Neo-pagan creates dogma on her. And right now the buzz over at OBOD is that Ceridwen is just an old witch and not a grain Goddess, but there are lots of witches who totally disagree with the want to be scholars over at OBOD. Right now my favorite witch is Anne Franklin, and she has written many books on the subject of Lunasa, and I think she really knows what she is talking about. If you get a chance to, I think you would learn some magic from her. But, always feel free to pick a god or goddess who feels right for you, as of now druidry is only about 70 years old, and nothing is set in stone yet. yes, there were druids in the past, but it was so long ago, I doubt there is any way to know what they really thought, and we are looking through our rose colored glasses at the past. As for Ross, he was a bit weird and may have been a pediophile. And these guys had to be in the church because the church was so much a part of society back then, that there really was no way around it. But Ross loved English, and he loved the nature, and he loved the country folk, and he had a pentagram painted on his cabin floor up at newforest camp. Again, I think it is best for people to ritualize in the way that they feel most comfortable with. We are talking about rituals that go back to BC times. And by all means, celebrate whoever you want to at Lunasa, just as long as it is not the Monsantos corporation and their Frankenstein food. Further, I don’t see how druidry and christians mix in any way, and I am now always trying to not tie them together. The two are just two different, and don’t make any sense to me when they are melded into some weird Celtic Druid christian church. The main thing I find is just to try stay out of the mass hypnosis of religion, and not believe in the collective consciousness of group religion where life is just part of the heard. Reality may be nothing more that a collective consensus and your preconceptions color how you see it. Look, however you celebrate Lunasa, I wish you joy and magic. BlueFalconJune 29, 2020 at 8:26 pm #11303
Ceridwen is a tricky subject, admittedly, the whole issues surrounding the Ceridwen’s being a “goddess” or not depend a lot on the mysterious word ogyrven, which is how she is described in the Welsh literature – beware of translations. Ogyrven is not an easy word to translate and there doesn’t seem to be agreement as to its true meaning, but what it definitely isn’t is the Welsh word for goddess. Jan Fries in Cauldron of the Gods: A Manual of Celtic Magick (2003), takes the position that Ceridwen was a literary goddess of inspiration, i.e. a muse, created by the Welsh Gogynfeirdd bards. The seeds referred to in the literature are metaphorical seeds of poetry and inspiration and the trauma Gwion Bach goes through could also be seen as the fact that inspiration, awen, does not always reveal pleasant things – the truth is not always what we want it to be.
/|\June 29, 2020 at 10:06 pm #11304
Awesome, I will do some research on ogyrven,
“The name Kore or Cer for a grain/earth goddess is echoed in many parts of the world. She is Ker, Kern, Kur, Kar, Kan, Kali, Kami-Musumi, Kanya, Kaya-Nu-Hime, Kedesh, Kenemet, Keres, Khamadhenu, Core, Kele, Ceres, Ca, Cabiro, Cailleach, Cel, Cer,
Mason, Paul; Franklin, Anna . Lughnasa (The Eight Festivals Book 2) (Kindle Locations 818-819). Lear Books. Kindle Edition.
Ceridwen, Car, Carman, Cor and Cybele. She gives us our word ‘corn’ and her name is remembered in the Northern English/Scottish Border custom of making a ‘kern-baby’ or ‘kernababy’, a corn dolly bound from the last sheaf of the harvest. We find her name in the kernel (kern-el) of the grain.
Mason, Paul; Franklin, Anna . Lughnasa (The Eight Festivals Book 2) (Kindle Locations 819-821). Lear Books. Kindle Edition.
Ceridwen – In Brythonic Celtic lore, Ceridwen is the goddess of the harvest.
Mason, Paul; Franklin, Anna . Lughnasa (The Eight Festivals Book 2) (Kindle Location 5500). Lear Books. Kindle Edition.
Ceridwen was an enchantress, mother of Morfran and a beautiful daughter Creirwy. Her husband was Tegid Foel, and they lived near Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid) in north Wales. The earliest recorded form of her name, found in the Black Book of Carmarthen, is Cyrridven which appears to mean ‘crooked woman’ (cyrrid = ‘crooked /bent’ and ben = ‘woman’), which is interesting and may associate her with the underworld. The more common form Ceridwen means ‘beloved/blessed/sacred’.”
Mason, Paul; Franklin, Anna . Lughnasa (The Eight Festivals Book 2) (Kindle Locations 6145-6149). Lear Books. Kindle Edition.June 30, 2020 at 8:04 am #11305
That’s some interesting information. Nevertheless, after having gone down many false paths and on many a wild goose chase myself, I’m wary of etymologies that draw parallels between diverse languages and cultures that were not connected in time or place with each other. I don’t think it’s wise to connect Indo-European languages with Afro-Asiatic, Japanese and so on unless a real historical link or connection can be proven.
Just of example, the Roman goddess Ceres is indeed connected to the word cereal and this seems to come from a root word meaning to feed or grow. However, our word corn seems to come from a different Indo-European root which meant to ripen, grow old or mature. Kali is, I believe, the Sanskrit feminine form of time; Kamadhenu in Hindu tradition is connected to cows. Cybele was an Phrygian goddess who was the “Mountain Mother” and, moreover, there are plenty of deities – male and female – associated with grain, corn, earth or vegetation from around the world that don’t seem to have similar names at all: Pachamama, Demeter, Kore is an aspect of Persephone, Saturn, Chronos, Centeōtl, Chicomecōātl, Xochipilli, Osiris (Wesir) and so and so forth and they all come very distinct cultures and epochs. If we go back far enough, we could also ask whether our pre-agricultural ancestors, the hunter-gatherers of the Stone Age(s) even had any notion of a god/goddess specifically associated with agriculture seeing as they did not practise agriculture themselves.
In Gaelic tradition we have the Cailleach or seanbhean, but she is associated with winter and cold weather and is quite terrifying in folklore, she might be connected to the equally terrifying Welsh Gwrach-y-Rhibyn – the terrifying “hag/witch of the mist”, and the agricultural rites associated with the Cailleach in Scotland appear to be more centred upon keeping her away from your homestead! Focusing more specifically on Cerridwen, there isn’t one, agreed etymology but the ones that are proposed: “fair and loved”, “crooked woman” or “crooked white one” are not very informative, not very convincing and not easily connected to anything to do with agriculture unless, of course, we make an enormous poetic leap, perhaps, and associate the crooked or hooked motif with the sickle that reaps the corn, but that would not really be proof of anything other than our own speculation. The main issue with Cerridwen, for me, is that she does not appear anywhere else other than in Welsh medieval literature and there is no evidence from Iron-Age, Roman, sub-Roman Britain or Gaul to support the notion that she was known to the pre-Christian Celtic-speaking peoples of Britain, let alone Ireland. On the other hand, albeit not fraught with difficulties, Brigit, Rhiannon, Lleu/Lugh, Beli Mawr, Modron and Mabon and so on may indeed have a connection if only in name; Ronald Hutton, for that matter, even casts doubts on these. It doesn’t leave us with much at times.
Finally, I think we need to remember how stratified these societies were in terms of classes and castes. Even in the Middle Ages, it is unlikely that a poor farmer would have been listening to the court bards of a Welsh king and in the pre-Roman Iron Age, Celtic societies were highly stratified and it wasn’t much fun to be a serf. This leads us to the question as to whether a Celtic farmer would have known about the lofty concepts of the bards of court or would they have pursued their own more down-to-earth folk religion?
Whatever the case, it’s fascinating stuff to explore and, naturally, everyone is entitled to their own spiritual inspiration and choice of belief-path.
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