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Posts Tagged ‘Lughnasadh’

Wow, August is just speeding by, and summer is slipping through my fingers like sand at the beach I visited a couple days ago.  I’m still participating in the 30 Days Magical Roots Challenge,  but as predicted, I’m combining days into sporadic updates. I’ve had a busy few days of visiting family, going to the beach in Alexandria Bay, grocery shopping, and celebrating Lughnasadh with my friends at Muin Mound Grove in Syracuse, NY.  Ah, that was a grand day full of laughter with old friends, offerings, song, fire, and mead.  But anyway…

Day 3: Centering and Breath Work

This is something I strive to do each day.  I’m more successful some days than others. Goodness, there are times when I wake up early for work, feeling like a zombie, and I can barely focus on anything let alone my breath.  Most of the time, however, this is an important part of my daily devotional (which also includes grounding and divination, as discussed in my last blog post). I tend to start each working, whether it’s a formal ritual or a prayer of gratitude, with three deep breaths.  If I’m going to do trance or magic work, I will likely go into a focused meditation.

Some days, when I’m irritated or stressed, it can be helpful to find a quiet place and take deep breaths…

Day 4: Intentions

I’m supposed to reflect on my intentions for completing this challenge.  That’s fair enough, but I want to start with my big intention for August: I will move into a new house without losing my mind!  Most everything is revolving around that, although I’m also the workshop coordinator for the FAE Fest once more.  Doing that while prepping for a move has been extra stressful.  With all that and this challenge in mind, my goals are to stay as calm and level-headed as possible.  Maintaining my Druidic practice, especially breathing, grounding, and shielding will be very important to my overall wellness.  In addition, I want to do some solid magical work this month.  I’ve done some work already, all towards the new home, so that will continue.  I hope it shifts to performing a house saining later this month…

Day 5: Energy Work

Ah… the old “hand rubbing” exercise.  This brings back memories.  I was chatting with a new witch friend on ye olde MSN Messenger.  I was still wet-behind-the-ears, and he suggested I try doing that.  I actually did this with my daughter a couple months ago, but she was too overtired to focus…  I should try again.  It’s fun to just experience energy in various forms.  When I start devotionals lately, I don’t just visualize fire and water – I wave my hand over the flame and put my finger in a bowl of water.  Feeling the energy directly is more meaningful to me, more intimate, and I store that memory for times when I don’t have access to them.  I suppose that’s the key to magic – the ability to summon that energy when needed.  There are plenty of times when I can’t light a candle, but I can go to that inner grove where I see and feel the flame…

Sometimes you have to go back to the basics to get stronger.  I’ll try to add the old hand rubbing exercise to my daily work and see what happens…

Day 6: Shielding

This is a skill that I really started to develop about three years ago.  You see, I had a bit of an altercation with a colleague.  We have very different personalities – she’s very type A and I’m… not, really?  There was also a definite lack of sleep due to us both having babies at home.  Anyway, it sucked.  I didn’t feel that she would purposefully attack me psychically (I don’t see her touching the magical community with a ten foot pole), but negative emotions run wild after emotional encounters like that.  I purposefully started to develop my shielding skills.  I developed my daily “Druid Egg” routine (one day I’ll do a more detailed post on the subject).  Sometimes, when especially stressed or “threatened,” I’ll take a break and renew it.  If I’m at work, the bathroom is a great place to do that.

As a Senior Druid with a grove, and as a teacher, this sort of practice is incredibly important.  If someone is upset with you, they will put off nastiness.  I hesitate to call myself an “empath,” as I don’t think I’m as perceptive as others, but I’m definitely affected by other people.  That can impact my decision making.  Shielding is a way for me to push that extra input aside and focus on what I need, who I am, and what I stand for.  I tell the gunk coming that it cannot get me.  I own my space.

Some days, I’m better at it than others… but when I set my mind to it, those wards are up.  I find that it helps to have a really good working relationship with my spirit allies as well… just in case the shield cracks.

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The #30DaysMagicalRoots challenge started yesterday.  True to form, I’m a bit late!  Given that it was a major holiday in my tradition, I feel that’s entirely forgivable, right?  Right.  My family had a lovely, low-key Lughnasadh full of blueberry pancakes, board games, and a big dinner.  I also made offerings and went on a run, which felt particularly appropriate on a day for competitions.  Only, I was competing against myself.

So, day 1 of the 30 Days Magical Roots challenge is all about Divination.  I mostly work with the Druid Animal Oracle.  The symbolism resonates with me.  My focus this month is definitely moving.  The waiting is stressing me out.  I asked for insight into that and drew the otter – a card of play.  The Kindreds seemed to tell me to try and enjoy the process, and to not take everything so seriously.  I’m trying… but it is very difficult.

Today is day 2 and the focus is grounding.  My absolute favorite way to ground is through movement.  I reach up to the sky and let the fiery sky energy return to where it is needed.  Then I move into the yoga movement called child’s pose on the floor or ground. I let the watery, underworld energy seep back into the Earth Mother.  It is especially potent outside when you can feel the heat from the sun and the moisture in the grass or soil.

 

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As Lughnasadh starts to turn us towards the Autumn Equinox, and as it is the beginning of the major harvests, I find myself reflecting on the successes and failures of our little container garden. Each year, we learn more about our plant allies. Each year, through a mixture of experience and research, we recognize opportunities for growth and improvement.

I harvested several red potatoes this year. This is a better yield compared to last year! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016

I also picked our onions and hung them to dry out a little. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

We gave offerings to the local spirits in gratitude for our bounty. Photo by Grey Catsidhe 2016.

Not pictured is the basket of tomatoes we gathered, mostly from my husband’s hydroponic buckets. In addition, I also gathered some basil and sage which I hung to dry. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to contribute to our own cupboards. 

I’m also thinking on my metaphorical harvest. I’ve had a fairly productive and joyful summer. My family hasn’t faced as many struggles this season. I have had more opportunities to do things that make my soul sing. I have room to improve, but the harvest is stil good. As we move toward Autumn, I’m already preparing a fall garden. I’m also making new goals – things to sew, books to finish, essays to write… May my next harvest be just as, or more, successful! 

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Wild 
Grain – Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016

Each Lughnasadh, I strive to harvest some of the wild grain from the hedges. Not only is harvesting grain traditional at this time of year, but I save it so my protogrove has something with which to weave Brighid crosses during Imbolc, six months later.  With the amount of snow we get in January and February, we won’t have any access to the nice green reeds traditionally used in Ireland!   So preparing for Imbolc is part of my Lughnasadh.  It makes sense – we harvest so that we are prepared for the coming months, after all!

My daughter was such a big help this year.  She’s learning to use scissors, so I let her use a child’s pair to cut the grass.  Bee enthusiastically embraced the task. It’s so nice to share seasonal traditions with her.  (I also found some blue vervain while we were out – a happy find!)

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… On the cabin window.


I did my morning meditation and yoga on a dock facing Star Lake. It’s been a relaxing Lughnasadh weekend full of swimming, kayaking, board games, and good company. 

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My Twitter pal Lady Althaea really inspires me.  Like other Pagans and Witches, much of her work focuses on keeping in touch with the land.  She does a lot of foraging and herbalism, and I feel like I don’t get out as much to explore like I used to.  Her posts on her blog and Twitter enchant me, and often inspire me to just seize the day and get outside.  We recently had a discussion about wood sorrel that reminded me I not only had a recipe for wood sorrel soup I wanted to try, but I had a big clump of it growing in my pea pots.  The pea plants were looking rather spent, so I took it as an opportunity to pull them, add more soil, rake it a bit, and plant more for the fall.  I also pulled up tons of wood sorrel for my soup.  The recipe comes from the book Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate by John Kallas.  It’s a wonderful introduction into foraging, focusing on the easiest to identify and prepare.  There are numerous photos to help you feel confident in your foraging. Best of all, many of the plants probably grow near your home, perhaps even sharing space with plants you are growing on purpose!

Anyway, I finally made the soup!  Oh, it was excellent.  Very onion-flavored, but the bits of wood sorrel gave it a real tart kick which I liked.  (For what it’s worth, I used potato instead of the thistle root.)

Wood sorrel soup. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Wood sorrel soup. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Other wonderful things are happening in my garden. The tomatoes are starting to ripen, I have some eggplant and even a zucchini on the way. A “surprise pumpkin” is taking shape – you know, the kind that grow out of jack-o-lantern guts!  It makes me excited for Samhain…  One of my favorite signs of August occurred recently – my sunflowers have opened!  I will let them go to seed.  I save some for more planting the following year, but I also use some as offerings over winter.

Photo Aug 13, 6 09 03 PM

Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015

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Mama and Me Corn Dollies – photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Every so often, Pagans around the blogosphere post about whether or not various high days make sense to them based on their path or climate. I definitely agree with the need to pay attention to what your bioregion is doing at certain times of year. It’s how we learn the cycles of our local Nature Spirits, after all. However, as someone who follows an Irish hearth culture, the seasonal lore remains very important to me.  I honor three Kindreds, after all, not just the Nature Spirits.  Keeping the tradition of playing games to honor Lugh and his foster mother’s sacrifice honors the Gods and Ancestors I work with.  Perhaps if I followed a different path, one not infused with Gaelic customs and lore, celebrating Lughnasadh wouldn’t make any sense. Honestly, why people who aren’t honoring Lugh would want to celebrate some hodgepodge of Lughnasadh seems strange to me anyway…

Back to the Nature Spirits.  Referring to Lughnasadh as the first harvest festival sometimes seems a bit strange in light of the previous, smaller harvests that have been occurring.  Greens have been available since spring, and our strawberry harvest occurs around the Summer Solstice, for example.  Yet Lughnasadh marks the time when there are an incredible amount of crops to harvest.  In our neck of the woods, farm stands are loaded with tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, potatoes, onions, summer squash, plums, peaches, berries, and corn.  The latter becomes available right around Lughnasash, which is perfect for the grain-centric traditions.  While corn is a major cash crop in NY, other grains are also harvested around this time.  The oat harvest starts around now, and the winter wheat harvest finishes in August.  Thus, for someone who works with Irish cultural traditions, upstate NY is a great place to be!  I made a loaf of bread for our feast which consisted of many locally grown veggies.  My daughter and I also used the corn husks to make corn dollies. Yes, corn husk dolls are more of a New World custom, but in that we we are also learning about and appreciating the land we live on now.  We offered these to our Ancestors during ritual, thanking them for all the knowledge about the harvest that they passed to us.

My family and protogrove had a wonderful Lughnasadh celebration.  Whatever you celebrated, I hope you had a joyous time, and that you were able to connect to the Three Kindreds in a way that made sense to you and your region.

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