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.

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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.

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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.

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