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Posts Tagged ‘Celebrations’

Lily Wight

     Updated 29/07/2014

     Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-na-sah) is one of eight festivals celebrated on the ancient Wheel Of The Year seasonal calendar.  It marks the midpoint between The Summer Solstice and The Autumn Equinox.  It was once observed when the first sheaf of corn was cut and now, most commonly, on 1st August.

     The First Harvest is named for the Irish Sun God, Lugh, who also lends his name to the Modern Irish name for August.  In Gaelic Mythology Lugh held a funeral and athletic games to honour his foster-mother, Tailtiu who died of exhaustion after clearing the land for agriculture.  Tailtiu represents an earth or harvest deity whose labours feed and nurture the people.

     At Lughnasadh tribal people throughout Western Europe and The Northern Hemisphere gave thanks for their grain and cereal harvest and sought blessings for…

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Lily Wight

     Updated 29/04/2014

     Beltane (meaning “bright fire”) or May Day is one of eight festival days marked upon the ancient seasonal calendar known as The Wheel Of The Year.

     Beltane heralds the beginning of Summer as it lies halfway between The Spring Equinox (Ostara) and The Summer Solstice (Litha).  It is a time when daylight hours are long, trees blossom and herding animals are turned out to pasture.

     Beltane was originally observed by the Gaelic people of Ireland, Scotland and The Isle Of Man who performed protective rituals for their crops and livestock whilst The Celtic Tribes of Western Europe and Britain also celebrated mating rituals and male potency.

     Beltane is named for the Celtic Sun God, Bel (Belenos/Belenus) who is associated with West Cornwall, formerly Belerion.  The Romans dubbed him the “British Apollo” and…

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     Updated 24/06/2014

     The ancient seasonal calendar – known as The Wheel Of The Year – has reached Litha (meaning “wheel”) also known as The Longest Day, Midsummer and The Summer Solstice.

     Litha marks the height of the sun’s powers at the middle of the year before the inevitable shortening of daylight hours.

     Midsummer has been observed since Neolithic times.  It held special significance to the Scandinavian, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon people and is still celebrated throughout The Northern Hemisphere today.

     Litha was a time to urge the growth of crops in the hope of a plentiful harvest.  A wheel would be set on fire and rolled downhill to “warm” the fields, a practice first recorded two thousand years ago.

     Golden-flowered  Midsummer plants, such as Calendula and St. John’s Wort were collected for their healing powers.

     According to ancient polytheist traditions The Antlered God – and his localised variant, The Green Man – reaches the height of his powers at the midpoint of the year whilst his Goddess consort carries the promise of renewal conceived during May’s Beltane celebrations.  This seasonal courtship was adapted by William Shakespeare in his play A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

     At Midsummer those living in the far Northern Hemisphere experience White Nights or The Midnight Sun as there is little if any darkness.  Families celebrate by heading out into the countryside; staying awake, lighting bonfires, feasting, drinking and enjoying saunas.

     Many stone circles throughout The United Kingdom are aligned to dawn at Midsummer and considered sacred to solar deities such as the Celtic Bel.  Celebrants gather at Stonehenge each year to drum the sun down at dusk and then up at dawn on The Longest Day.

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Imbolc ~ The Beginner’s Guide To The Wheel Of The Year

Ostara, The Spring Equinox ~ The Beginner’s Guide To The Wheel Of The Year

Beltane ~ The Beginner’s Guide To The Wheel Of The Year

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     Updated 29/04/2014

     Beltane (meaning “bright fire”) or May Day is one of eight festival days marked upon the ancient seasonal calendar known as The Wheel Of The Year.

     Beltane heralds the beginning of Summer as it lies halfway between The Spring Equinox (Ostara) and The Summer Solstice (Litha).  It is a time when daylight hours are long, trees blossom and herding animals are turned out to pasture.

     Beltane was originally observed by the Gaelic people of Ireland, Scotland and The Isle Of Man who performed protective rituals for their crops and livestock whilst The Celtic Tribes of Western Europe and Britain also celebrated mating rituals and male potency.

     Beltane is named for the Celtic Sun God, Bel (Belenos/Belenus) who is associated with West Cornwall, formerly Belerion.  The Romans dubbed him the “British Apollo” and – like many solar deities – he pulls the sun with his chariot and is associated with inspirational light and healing waters.

     Beltane also celebrates The Spirit Of The Greenwood in the guise of The Green Man; known variously as The Celtic Antlered-God Cernunnos, Herne The Hunter, Jack-In-The-Green and even Robin Hood.  Cernunnos consorts with The Mother Goddess at Beltane to assure the birth of the following Spring from the dead of Winter.

     Collecting May blossoms or “bringing in the May” is a euphemism for this time of sexual licence.  Beltane remains a popular time for marriage ceremonies and traditional handfastings.

     Jumping over a broomstick on May Day symbolises crossing the threshold from Spring to Summer and combines the masculine (handle) with the feminine (brush)… no sniggering at the back please 😉

     Dancing around Maypoles at Beltane is still practiced today throughout Europe, Scandinavia and The British Isles.  The origins of this tradition are lost but Folklorists believe the pole represents the ancient reverence for sacred trees or a phallic symbol!

     Pre-Roman tribes danced and walked themselves and their herds around or between protective Beltane fires.  These bonfire celebrations are enjoying a modern revival attracting fire-eaters and coal-walking.

The Beginner’s Guide To The Wheel Of The Year

Imbolc (birth of Spring)

Ostara (Spring Equinox)

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