When in still air and still in summertime
A leaf has had enough of this, it seems
To make up its mind to go; fine as a sage
Its drifting in detachment down the road.
Howard Nemerov, Threshold
This is the eve of Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-nah-sah), also called Lammas in the Christian revision of the Pagan rites. It is a cross-quarter holiday, meaning that it falls between the celestially marked holidays of Solstice and Equinox.
In the Southern Hemisphere, our friends are now celebrating Imbolc, giving thanks for the first stirrings of Spring.
Our Celtic ancestors counted their days, not from midnight to midnight, or even sunrise to sunrise, but sunset to sunset. So, tonight at sunset, this Sabbat will properly begin.
Therefore, on this day we first give honor and thanks for the burgeoning season of Beltane, now passing away.
Farewell to the Season of Beltane
(to be said at the back door/window of the house on the last morning of Beltane, 31 July)
Go with thanks and go with blessing,
Season of vitality.
Souls with life are deeply freighted
Hearts are full of energy.
Under bud and blossom traveling,
You have come to Summer’s growth.
Soul-Smith, who has forged this brightness,
Flower-Maid, whose lips have kissed,
Touch the hidden fruit within us,
Bring us into Autumn’s bliss.
From Celtic Devotional, Daily Prayers and Blessings, by Caitlín Matthews
Lughnasadh (sometimes spelled with an extra S) celebrates the first harvest celebration sabbat. The next will be Mabon (Autumn Equinox, which is only six weeks away, can you believe it??), and then Samhain, which also marks the end of the magical year.
We are also in the dark of the balsamic Moon, with the Leo New Moon arriving the day after tomorrow.
So we find ourselves in an extremely potent threshold moment. What will you do with the beautiful power that courses through the worlds?
Now is the time to give thanks to the spirits and deities for the beginning of the harvest season, and to give them offerings and prayers for the safety of the crops that are still ripening.
This holiday is named for Lugh, the God of Light and the harvest. He is a Triple God — passionate Youth, wise King, and Sage Elder. He embodies the Male dualities of Fire and Air. He is the protector of the land, and also known as Ildánach which means master of all arts and crafts. His is the Spear of Assal, which is one of the four treasures of the Tuatha de Danann.
More about Lughnasadh tomorrow. But speaking of Triple Deities …
Blessings to Hecate
Lady of the night bring us your hoarse whispers and ancient songs,
Like deer bones tapping and clicking, calling the dead, calling winter home.
from Poem to Hecate, by Corinne Boyer
I especially want to acknowledge Hecate today, for now, at this crossroads of Lughnasadh and the fading Moon, it becomes clear that the dark half of the year now encroaches.
(Strictly speaking, in ancient times, Her day would be reckoned according to the lunar calendar, but since solar calendars are what we use today, that is how I honor Her in this lifetime.)
Hecate is widely thought of nowadays as the Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess. But historically, She was also recognized as the beautiful (but formidable) Maiden, as well as a fierce Mother protector of children and women, particularly women in childbirth. She also watches over the marginalized on the edges of society.
She is the Goddess of Witches and of magic, the dark of the Moon, and the depths of the underworld, which is appropriate as the shadows of the year deepen. She is the Queen of the Night, and those who seek Her protection can move safely in the darkness.
Hecate walks along the roadways and counsels those who find themselves at a crossroads. Thus, it is at the three-way crossroads that Her devotees leave a “Hecate’s supper” as an offering in Her honor on this night.
Hecate is the giver of wisdom, divination, magic, and dreams. Of all the Greek Goddesses, Hecate alone could grant or refuse anything asked by mortals.
Be aware, however, that, if invoked, She is likely to respond, and is not dismissed easily.
She may require you to meet uncomfortable challenges in Her service, for She often asks us to let go of what is familiar, safe, and secure, to travel to the more difficult places of the soul. Yet this may hold the key to important growth and wisdom for you.
As the descent into the shadow time of the year becomes more pronounced, tonight let us light our fires and dance the Lughnasadh harvest dances. And even in the darkest of times, may Hecate always guide us well.