Ficlet: Harvest Celebration

Inspired by some prompts at One Sentence Only (Table 25b), a summer themed ficlet for Lammas/Lughnasagh/Lunasdagh, as a priestess prepares to lead the ritual for the harvest celebration.


Lammas/Lugnasadh Comments

Magickal Graphics

The heat of the fire was scorching even in the hot summer’s day air, like dragon’s breath against her skin. On the spit nearby the wild boar was cooking nicely. Bread, salad vegetables, cookies sprinkled with sugar, were all arranged on a table ready for the feast.

The boughs of the trees moved in the gentle breeze, carrying the scent of smoke, food, and wine to every house in the small town, beckoning everyone to join the harvest celebration. Most of the inhabitants were already there, having fed their letter with expressions of gratitude and wishes for the future, to the flames. Now they were adding to the offerings of food and drink, gossiping, laughing, playing alongside the excited children, or sitting in what shade could be found to await the ritual.

The village herbalist was one of the latter, sat in the shadow of an old oak, and knitting a blanket as she watched the games with a warm smile. Her teenage son, shirtless, was flirting with young men and women alike, though not with any seriousness. The mood of the day was light and happy.

As priestess, she’d made libation this morning, a mug of bitter tea and one of sweet mead, a cup of wine and one of ale. She’d thanked the gods for their blessings, not least the weather that had brought sun and rain in quantities enough to grow sufficient crops and sustain the livestock. The days were growing shorter already and despite the warmth of the day she knew winter would approach and they must soon prepare for it.

The door to the Elder’s office opened and he moved slowly across the open town square to join her by the fire. She bobbed a respectful greeting to the man who’d been a lawyer in his youth, a professor in his middle years, and was now the leader of their settlement. He was known for both his wisdom and compassion.

He returned her greeting, an open hand over his heart, honouring the woman who spoke with the gods.

“I was writing my letter,” he said. “Forgive my lateness.”

“The sun is not yet at its zenith,” she returned with a grin. “You are right on time.”

He cast the parchment into the flames, closed his eyes as it burned. Then he drew himself to his full height and clapped his hands.

“Gather around,” he called. “The ritual begins shortly.”

Soon all eyes were on her and she took a deep breath. “Welcome all to our harvest celebration on this glorious day. We honour and invite the gods to join our feast day.”

A poem followed, one written long ago for this occasion, the words flowing from her tongue easily for she knew the rites by heart. Then a longer prayer and, finally, the casting of the powder into the fire.

The fire leapt in response, crackling, and sending bright multicoloured sparks and a plume of white smoke into the air. She was no longer startled by the reaction though it never failed to impress her. Everyone applauded.

“Let the feast begin,” she said.

People needed no further encouragement, swarming off to fill their plates and glasses.

The Elder offered her his arm and she took it, moving with him to the table where the innkeeper was serving drinks. The blacksmith, proud of their new hobby, was already setting up the archery targets at the edge of the square, while some people were talking of going to paddle in the river.

It was going to be a lovely afternoon.

 

prompt words: dragon, fire, cooking, smoke, trees, house, poem, sugar, lawyer, shirt, wild, respect, shadow, open, professor, door, hobby, knitting, writing, office, tea, bitter.

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Litha: Summer Solstice


Litha: The Summer Solstice

Banner by Magickal Graphics 

Litha is also known as the Summer Solstice, Midsummer, Midsummer Night, Midsummer Night’s Eve, Gathering Day, Sun Blessing, Gathering Day, Feill-Sheathain, St. John’s Day. In England, The Day of Cerridwen and Her Cauldron, in Ireland, dedicated to the faery goddess Aine of Knockaine; Day of the Green Man in Northern Europe.
Usually celebrated around June 21, the Summer Solstice marks the time when the sun is at the highest point before beginning its slide into darkness.

In the Southern Hemisphere today  is Yule, the Winter Solstice.

The word Litha has some interesting etymology behind it: “Litha is a modern name for this holiday, possibly based on a Saxon word; Aerra Litha being Saxon for “before Litha”, or June and Aeftera Litha being Saxon for “after Litha”, Litha being the month of July. Its modern use was started by Wiccans but has been adopted by some other Pagan groups as well.” (1)

For me I find it is a bittersweet sabbat, since it marks a ‘going away’ of the light. On the other hand, this is considered by many to be the start of summer and some of the best weather of the year can be expected now – English weather peculiarities aside though we’re currently having a heatwave where we had flash flooding last year.

Like Yule and the equinoxes, Litha is considered a ‘lesser’ sabbat, being primarily of astronomical significance.
In Wiccan and some other neo-pagan traditions the solstices are seen as the Holly and Oak king battling for supremacy (2), with the Holly King being victorious at the summer solstice and the Oak king winning at Yule.

Traditionally, Mother Goddesses, the pregnant Goddess – symbol of the forthcoming harvests – and goddesses of love and beauty are honoured. Sun gods and sun goddesses are celebrated at this time, as well as Father Gods.

This is a time of great power, prime for fertility rites, inspiration and other growth rituals, as well as healing and purification, divination and re-dedicating yourself to your chosen path. It is a good time for handfastings and weddings or for clearing away burdens and establishing a stable base.

Litha celebrations might involve Morris dancing, singing, storytelling, pageantry and feasting, and a bonfire which could provide luck to those brave enough to jump over the flames. Other rituals/celebratory activities include visiting a holy well, burning a cleansing bonfire, recharging your magical tools, leaving out milk/honey for the Fair Folk, and going early berry picking.

Correspondences
Foods and drinks especially suitable for celebrations include lemons, oranges, peppers, strawberries, summer squashes, tomatoes, corn, honey, honey cakes, melted cheese dishes, fresh vegetables, summer fruits, summer squash, pumpernickel bread, ale, mead, fruit juice, carrot juice, red wine, lemon tea.

Trees, Flowers and Herbs: birch, white lilies, roses, St John’s Wort and mugwort, mistletoe, apple, cedar, elder, fir, hawthorn, holly, ivy, lemon, oak, pine, peach, rowan, daisy, iris, honeysuckle, lavender, marigolds, saffron, sunflowers.
Gather vervain and basil to to be used during the winter months.

Traditional colours of Litha: gold, yellow, red, blue, green, orange, white, tan.

Other correspondences: The sun; sun wheel, sun dials, seashells; blades; daisy chains; stone circles, feathers, fire, candles, wands, yellow and green gemstones, especially emerald and jade amber, tiger’s eye, frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, chamomile, bee, butterfly, caterpillars, sea creatures, wren, robin, horses and cattle, faeries, dragons, blades, percussion instruments.

Sources and further reading:
1 Litha Information Sheet (http://walkingthehedge.net/hedge/litha-info-sheet/)

2 The Legend of the Holly King and the Oak King (http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/yulethelongestnight/p/Holly_KIng_Yule.htm)

The Summer Solstice
All about Litha
The Summer Yule

Spring Festival: Ostara


Ostara Comments

banner by ~Magickal Graphics~
Ostara is the Spring or Vernal equinox when days and nights are once again equal in length. It is a time of renewal and rebirth. The name Ostara is believed to be derived from Eostre – the Teutonic lunar Goddess (see more on this below). Her chief symbols are the hare, which represents fertility, and the egg, which is a symbol of rebirth.

(In the Southern Hemisphere, it is Mabon that this being celebrated today at the time, with the balance of daylight about to go in the opposite direction, from more daylight to less.)

Ostara is close in symbolism to the Church festival of Easter, but Ostara is fixed at the equinox while Easter is a moveable feast decided by the phases of the moon. The Jewish holiday of Passover also falls during March or April, depending on the moon phases of each year.
Ostara also falls close to St Patrick’s Day amongst other festivals – there’s more detail in this article: Spring Traditions around the World.

Traditionally this day marks the start of Spring, and is a good time for cleaning in the physical, emotional, and spiritual sense.

This year, Ostara falls on the 20 March.

Continue reading Spring Festival: Ostara

All About Imbolc

Imbolc, also known/celebrated as Imbolg, Oimelc, Candlemas, (St) Brigid’s Day, Groundhog Day, and the Festival of Nut, takes place on or near the 1st/2nd of February and is a festival marking a cross-quarter day in the wheel of the year, heralding the first signs of spring.
Imbolc/Candlemas Comments
Banner by Magickal Graphics

This is a festival particularly associated with Brighid (Brigit, Bride, or Brigid), goddess of healing, smith craft, and poetry. She was Christianised as St Brigid of Kildare.
In the Southern Hemisphere, it is the time of Lammas/Lughnasadh, which is the first of the harvest holidays.


Brighid of the sunrise, Rising in the morning, Rising with the springtime, Greening all the land Brighid’s Kiss, La Lugh, lyrics here

Imbolc is a festival associated with candles, milk, new beginnings, and poetry. The emphasis is on warmth and light and burgeoning spring, being the halfway point between Yule and the Spring Exquinox.

A few ideas on how to celebrate Imbolc:
Make and drink a milkshake
Buy and plant some spring flowers, such as crocuses and early daffodils
Take a photo of something that signifies approaching spring to you
Write a poem
Clean part or all of your home
Scatter nuts, a sign of prosperity, in a garden
Make a candle – try making ice candles. Bless your candles. Burn a candle and think about what you’re grateful for and what your plans are.

This article gives some background about the history of Imbolc and some of the other festivals taking place at this time.

More about Imbolc, symbolism, and ways to celebrate, under the cut

Continue reading All About Imbolc

Yule


Yule Comments & Graphics

~banner by Magickal Graphics~

Celebrated at the 21st or 22nd of December Yule marks the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere while Litha is celebrated as the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. It is of course close to Christmas Day while that is also the feast day of Frau Holle, a Scandinavian spirit who is honoured as the embodiment of nature and the woods. There’s an article at About.Com on the History Of Yule and the various global celebrations held on or near the solstice. In the Southern Hemisphere it is the time of the Summer Solstice, Litha.

This year the solstice occurs on Wednesday December 21st at 10:44 GMT (Universal time).

Holly Kings, Yule Goats, and more winter customs below the cut
Continue reading Yule

Lammas

Happy Lammas 2016 – here’s the post I made last year.

L M Dee

lammas

Lammas occurs on the first or second of August – the second, this year. It is also celebrated as Lughnasadh. It is believed that Lammas comes from the Saxon phrase hlaf maesse, or “loaf mass.”

Lammas is primarily a wheat harvest. It is a cross quarter day, falling between the midsummer solstice of Litha and the autumnal equinox of Mabon.

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Litha (Midsummer)


Litha Comments & Graphics

Image by Magickal Graphics 

Litha is also known as the Summer Solstice, Midsummer, Midsummer Night, Midsummer Night’s Eve, Gathering Day, Sun Blessing, Gathering Day, Feill-Sheathain, St. John’s Day. In England, The Day of Cerridwen and Her Cauldron, in Ireland, dedicated to the faery goddess Aine of Knockaine; Day of the Green Man in Northern Europe.
Usually celebrated around June 21, the Summer Solstice marks the time when the sun is at the highest point before beginning its slide into darkness.
This year for the first time in decades, it coincides with the full moon. (3)

Continue reading Litha (Midsummer)

Ostara – Vernal Equinox


Ostara Comments

~Magickal Graphics~
Ostara is the Spring or Vernal equinox when days and nights are once again equal in length. It is a time of renewal and rebirth. The name Ostara is believed to be derived from Eostre – the Teutonic lunar Goddess. Her chief symbols are the hare, which represents fertility, and the egg, which is a symbol of rebirth.
Ostara is close in symbolism to the Church festival of Easter, but Ostara is fixed at the equinox while Easter is a moveable feast decided by the phases of the moon. The Jewish holiday of Passover also falls during March or April, depending on the moon phases of each year.
Ostara also falls close to St Patrick’s Day amongst other festivals – there’s more detail in this article: Spring Traditions around the World.

Traditionally this day marks the start of Spring, and is a good time for cleaning in the physical, emotional, and spiritual sense.

This year, Ostara falls on the 20 March.

Continue reading Ostara – Vernal Equinox

Imbolc


Imbolc/Candlemas Comments

header by Magickal Graphics

Imbolc, also known/celebrated as Imbolg, Oimelc, Candlemas, (St) Brigid’s Day, Groundhog Day, and the Festival of Nut, takes place on or near the 1st/2nd of February and is a festival marking a cross-quarter day in the wheel of the year, heralding the first signs of spring.

It is a festival particularly associated with Brighid (Brigit, Bride, or Brigid), goddess of healing, smith craft, and poetry. She was Christianised as St Brigid of Kildare.


Brighid of the sunrise, Rising in the morning, Rising with the springtime, Greening all the land Brighid’s Kiss, La Lugh, lyrics here

Imbolc is a festival associated with candles, milk, new beginnings, and poetry. The emphasis is on warmth and light and burgeoning spring, being the halfway point between Yule and the Spring Exquinox.

A few ideas on how to celebrate Imbolc:
Make and drink a milkshake
Buy and plant some spring flowers, such as crocuses and early daffodils
Take a photo of something that signifies approaching spring to you
Write a poem
Clean part or all of your home
Scatter nuts, a sign of prosperity, in a garden
Make a candle – try making ice candles. Bless your candles. Burn a candle and think about what you’re grateful for and what your plans are.

This article gives some background about the history of Imbolc and some of the other festivals taking place at this time.

More about Imbolc, symbolism, and ways to celebrate, under the cut

Continue reading Imbolc