Lughnasa and the Lughnasa Moon
Sunday gratefuls: Resurrection. Love is enough. Kate, always Kate. Allergies. Rain. Rain. Cool. Cool. Ruth. Jon. Gabe. Rigel and Kep. The Druid Craft Deck. The Wooden Tarot Deck. Introspection. Introspective cues. Steak salad.
Sparks of Joy and Awe: That bulldog I waved to yesterday. He had his head out the window of the car.
Tarot: Nine of Cups, Druid Deck Reversed
On a cold, rainy Sunday morning here on Shadow Mountain the Great Wheel turns. Lughnasa. 8,800 feet mutes its traditional significance as a first fruits holiday, a day to celebrate the first gathering of crops from the growing season. Not much agriculture up here. Six Angus feeding out on grass in a meadow half way down Shadow Mountain Drive. A once mown field of grasses and flowers at the base of the mountain. A few vegetable gardens here and there.
In my home region of the Midwest however Lughnasa has not waned much. The direct ancestor of county and state fairs, Lughnasa found the early Celts in villages, selling vegetables, perhaps chickens, eggs, crafts. Dancing.
Lughnasa got the absorption treatment by the Roman Catholic church who named the mass around August 1, Lammas. On this holiday mass parishioners would bring loaves of bread (lammas=loaf mass) made from the first harvest of wheat or, corn, as the British call it. Corn there included all grains. The corn grown in the New World, actually a plant called maize, looked like an ear of wheat to early settlers and the name stuck.
Some Wiccans call this holiday Lammas in what I consider a confused nod to the Roman Catholic attempt to wipe out the auld religion.
If you’ve ever been to a 4-H country fair, or one of the Midwestern state fairs, especially Minnesota, Indiana, or Iowa, you’ve seen proud displays of honey, tomatoes, stitchery, pigs, and fancy chickens. The very things Celts might have collected for sale during a Lughnasa market week.
Today you might look at the garden of your life. Perhaps you have tended it well since Beltane, the beginning of the growing season. What’s available right now for a first harvest of your work? A few chapters of a book? Several pages in a sketchbook? Phone calls or other messages from relationships you’ve nurtured? Or, you could have ripening beans, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, onions. Perhaps your bees have had a good summer. Is it about time for a honey harvest?
As for me. Kate died April 12th, only eighteen days before May 1st, the first day of the growing season on the Great Wheel. My life went into a sudden winter, a winter from which it has not yet emerged, in spite of the outer turning of the Wheel. Not a bad thing. A natural, normal immersion in the darkness of death, isolation, loss. A needed immersion.
I’ve had plenty of support. Of particular importance has been Joe and Seoah, the Ancient Ones, and Congregation Beth Evergreen. A spirituality based in Taoism and the Great Wheel sustains me on my journey underground. None of these can eliminate sadness, grief, nor should they.
It does mean that I come to this Lughnasa, this 2021 first fruits holiday, with a heart still in a shroud.
This last week has had tough moments, unexpected triggers for grief’s charioteer, sadness. Coming up Shadow Mountain Drive I remembered our first drive up here, in the dark. Four mule deer jumped out and ran across the road as we rounded a corner. We were both so happy to see them
When I dropped off Kate’s wheelchair and rollator at CBE, I recalled a picture I have of her on Rosh Hashanah 0f 2018, sitting on the green (her favorite color) rollator in the social hall. A week or so later she would have her bleed which signaled the true start of her decline.
No first fruits for me this Lughnasa. This year I’m out of sync with the Great Wheel, though try me again on September 29th, Michaelmas. Rudolf Steiner’s springtime of the soul. I might emerge like the groundhog, see the sun lower in the fall sky, and declare myself in a new spring of a transformed life. Could happen.
The reversed nine of cups speaks to me of this. It says, look for sadness, loss of pleasure. A struggle to achieve goals. Frustration that wishes have not come true.
All of these are true for me right now. I don’t see them as anything other than a normal reaction to Kate’s death. I am sad. Sometimes. I’ve not found my g-spot for this new post-Kate’s physical presence life. Any goals, short term especially, get bogged down when I lose energy. And, yes, I’m frustrated that I’m not further along in something I cannot hurry.
Grief. The process of realignment, of realization, of transformation. Not easy. Not impossible. Difficult.