Better Know a Celt: Lugh Lámhfhada

Welcome to the second entry of Better Know a Celt, a series I started with the intention of getting to know the gods and goddesses of my chosen hearth cultures. The Celt for August is, surprise surprise, one Lugh Lámhfhada, Lugh of the Long Arm, Many-Skilled, Craftsman, Artist and Athlete Extraordinaire. I’ve often described Lugh to non-Celts as an Irish Apollo, which, on the surface, isn’t too far from the truth. Both gods seem to be jack-of-all-trades, having such a diverse purview  that it might be easier to say what They’re not in charge of. Both are also gods of light (though not necessarily the sun), are both warriors and artists, and are shown in mythology to care deeply for Their mothers.

Writing this post has been difficult, not because there’s any dearth of mythical information about Lugh or because His modern followers are silent – to the contrary, He seems to be one of the more popular Celtic gods nowadays – but because I find so little connection with Him. I have some vague sense of what His presence is like, and He’s indistinguishable from Aengus Óg’s presence in my mind: warm, quiet laughter, but golden where Aengus is red. Which leads me to wonder if there’s some connection between the two gods (there is) or if I’m just getting nothing from Lugh and projecting His image onto Aengus (which is probably also true).

But, it’s important for me to know all the Tuatha Dé Danann, not just the Ones Who seem most important to me. They all have Their place, Their thread in the tapestry. (There’s also a lot to be said for recognizing that not all the gods are going to like me, or that Some may have a “meh” reaction at my presence. That’s okay when you’re a polytheist. Not all practitioners are cut out for all gods, and it’s okay to have some you only honor once in a great while – say, Lugh at Lughnasadh – or even not at all.)

So, without further ado, I present to you a god who really needs no introduction: Lugh.

Continue reading

My Lughnasadh DP Essay

I bet y’all are tired of me talking about Lughnasadh at this point, huh? 🙂

I’m preparing for my Better Know a Celt series tomorrow by writing on Lugh, and I discovered that I never posted my Dedicant Path essay for Lughnasadh. The DP requires short (min. 125 words) essays on each of the eight High Days we celebrate, with the intention it takes a full turn of the Wheel to finish this first course of study. Expect a longer, proper post tomorrow.

Lughnasadh 2012 Essay

This Lughnasadh I celebrated by baking cinnamon bread. Though the bread was far from perfect, I thoroughly enjoyed the process and received great satisfaction from nourishing my family with a delicious recipe.

A few days later I celebrated with an ADF-style ritual proper, once again using a Gaelic Hearth. My script was partially my own creation and partially cobbled together from other rituals found on ADF’s webpage, which led to a lengthy, well-structured ritual. I’m still having problems understanding some nuances of the COoR, but with time and practice I’m sure I’ll iron it out.

The patrons of my rite were Lugh, who received a shot of whiskey, and his foster mother Tailtiu, who received a small bowl of cornmeal. I found myself getting emotional when I talked to Tailtiu and thanked her for her sacrifice, which allowed myself and others to thrive off the bounty of the earth.

Danu again was my Earth Mother and I continue to work with the Morrígan, Brighid, and Manannán as deities who represent the powers of Land, Sky, and Sea, respectively.

Lughnasadh 2012: The Omen

One of the most important concepts in ADF’s ritual theology is that of reciprocation, hospitality, and gift-giving. The Core Order of Ritual splits nicely down the middle so the first half is all about our hospitality – making the space pure and sanctified, honoring the Kindreds, calling forth the Gatekeeper to make ritual possible, and finally giving to the assembled Beings our food, drink, love, attention, and time – while the second is all about Theirs – a return flow of energy, blessings, and the ritual participants partaking of the Waters of Life to accept this cherished energy.

The linchpin between these absolutely vital parts of ADF ritual is the Omen. For me, the Omen is an opportunity for further energy exchange between myself and the Kindreds. I always ask at least two question: How were my offerings received? and What blessings may I expect in return? I find this to be a natural bridge between the two halves of ritual and allow for more flexible divination responses, rather than a simple yes-or-no question. My deck of choice at the moment is the Wildwood Tarot, which is a beautiful re-imagining of the traditional tarot system within the context of Celtic mysticism. I use it because I connect with it quite strongly and I find it to be adaptive and intuitive to use in a way that other decks haven’t always been.

But what did I pull for Lughnasadh this year? Read on to find out.

Continue reading

Lughnasadh 2012: Tailtiu’s Sacrifice

[This is the first in a short series of essays about my Lughnasadh celebration this year. You can read my unedited ritual outline here.]

 

Following in the grand tradition of me celebrating the High Days nearly a week after the actual date in question, this past Tuesday I finally sat down and observed the August Feast. In Gaelic circles this is known as Lughnasadh; those who have passing knowledge of Wiccan-related paths may also recognize this date as Lammas (Loaf-mass). Wikipedia has some things to say about the holiday, as does ADF, the Druidry group with whom I’m completing my Dedicant Path. And, if you’d like a whole slew of Lugh articles I’ve been collecting over the past few weeks, you can trot on down to my wiki and click to your heart’s content.

What really got to me, though, was the reason Lugh established this holiday to begin with. Lughnasadh, a celebration of first fruits, the grain harvest, and a time of athletic competitions (hi, Olympics!), was founded to be a festival in honor of Tailtiu, Lugh’s foster mother. Fostering is a very important concept in Celtic mythology; oftentimes, the foster parents are more important in the child’s upbringing than the biological ones. Lugh’s foster father is perhaps the most famous foster parent of all: Manannán mac Lir. Tailtiu, on the other hand, has mostly been lost to the mists of time – or to the mists of my shoddy research skills; I could only dig up so much information on Her. She is Lugh’s foster mother; She is married to the last Fir Bolg king; She is a goddess of the land, fertility, and agriculture; She transformed the soil of Ireland so that humans could farm it and live off the land. This transformation took so much out of Herself that upon completion, She died from exhaustion, having given Her life to the Irish peoples. In honor of this sacrifice Her foster son proclaimed a feast day of competitions, boastings, and harvest celebrations at the time when the first wheats and fruits in the field were ready for consumption.

Continue reading

Lughnasadh 2012 Write-Up

Right after the Midsummer Writeup! Sounds about right. Below is the unedited and un-annotated version of yesterday’s ritual. Some of this was copied from another ADF ritual, and at the moment I can’t find the original source. Later I’ll edit this with proper links and suck.

A real, actual post is coming soon. I promise.

Continue reading