Lughnasa 2012

Lughnasa                                                 Hiroshima Moon

Lughnasa (Lugnasa, Lugnasadh) falls between the Summer Solstice and the Fall Equinox.   The cross-quarter holidays, in the Celtic calendar, came before the solar holidays.  Originally, the year divided only in half:  May 1st, Beltane-Summer to October 31st Samhain-Summer’s End.  After the solar holidays became part of the calender, two more cross-quarter holidays, Imbolc and Lugnasa, got established.

This is a time of joy, the harvest has well begun.  Our neighbor brought us a colander filled with vegetables from his garden, a first fruits gathering.  We gave him some honey.  Our garden is a bit behind his because he has a wonderful open spot for his and we have woods around all of ours, limiting sunlight.  Still, we harvested onions this week and garlic a month  ago.  Kate has also put up several pounds of beet greens, chard and kale with more to come.

The workload, too, changes, as the garden begins to die back after its summer of growth.

Lughnasa is the first of three harvest holidays, coming later are the Mabon, the fall equinox and Samhain, summers end, which marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the fallow season.

You could almost call this a fifth season, Harvest, with three holidays.  Imagine how important this time of year was to agrarian societies where it determined the quality of the long fallow season.  No wonder there are so many traditions, fairs, queens of this and that associated with it.

It might be a good time for you to check your life.  What’s had a long growing season and is ready for harvest?  Today I began work on the revision of Missing, its first draft finished in May and now ready for revision.  I will also begin, at some point in the next week or so, Missing’s sequel, Loki’s Children.  These represent the fruits, the harvest of much work and thought over the last couple of years.

Sewing projects?  Home renovations?  Jon and Jen have the plumber coming tomorrow to connect their two new bathrooms, their sinks and their stove.  Overnight they’ll go from a one bathroom to a three bathroom home and a home with a remodeled kitchen and dining area, a new deck, new landscaping in the back and new bedrooms for all.  But it took all the last year to get to this point.  Harvest.

In fact, the whole summer olympics, coming as the calendar turns over to Lugnasa, are a harvest festival.  Thinks of the hours, the weeks, the months, even the years most of these competitors have trained, just for this moment.  A growing season perhaps begun in their youth, or, for some like the gymnasts, realized in their youth.

The state fair celebrates the agrarian culture that feeds us and its celebration comes during the Lugnasa season.  Cattle, chickens, pigs, rabbits, honey, cakes, political campaigns, art all come to the fair.  These fairs are the outgrowth of village markets that sprang up around the cross-quarter and solar holidays.  Usually a week or so long, they gathered in the larger community, shared music and food, brokered deals, signed labor contracts or fulfilled them with payment, sanctioned marriages, sometimes handfast marriages for a year and a day.

It’s a festive time of year.  Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music.