Reprinted from A Druid Missal-Any, Lughnasadh 1990
By Emmon Bodfish
ughnasadh, festival of the god Lugh. In one tradition these festivities marked the funeral games originally held by Lugh in honor of his murdered father Cian. In another tradition, in Ireland, they commemorate the death of Lugh’s divine foster mother Tailtiu, who cleared the forest from the plains of Ireland to make them fit for agriculture and died of the effort. She is a goddess of agriculture and one of the Irish female origin-figures. Irish clans often traced their ancestry to a female divinity, a goddess of the land. Lugh is the son of Ethniu and Cian, and the grandson of Balor, the elder Sun God, whom he later vanquishes in battle, reminiscent of Zeus overthrowing Chronos.
Lugh is the youthful Celtic Deity of Light, eulogized as “The Shining One.” Some see in him an evolved form of the Neolithic “Young Year God,” representing the Sun, born on Winter Solstice, married at Summer Solstice, and triumphant at Lughnasadh when he brings the harvest. He is fated to die on Samhain at the end of the harvest season and to sleep until the returning of the Sun on Winter Solstice.
Lugh is the multi-competent god, patron of all crafts and of commerce, protector of travelers, poet, harper, physician, smithy, magician, and defender of the people against their oppressive Fomorian king. Some scholars think he is cognate with Grecian Apollo. He is master of the throwing spear and has the title “Lamhfada,” long arm, far reaching; he owns the spear that cannot miss its mark but seeks out its enemy.
The Sun is now half way between Solstice and Fall Equinox, and already the days are perceptively shorter, though the strong heat is still to come. This festival marks the beginning of the harvest. The first fruits are of each farmstead were brought and offered in the sacrifice. Sheep had been sheared, and the surplus wool and lambs could be bartered.
In Reformed Druid tradition, any members who have a garden, a fruit tree, or a tree that gives mast or nuts, or wild land that gives any vegetable food, bring the first fruits picked this season to offer in the Lughnasadh bonefire. (No Animals! That was forbidden by the Reform in 1963 that gave us our origin, constitution, and laws.) Lugh’s tree is the apple. I cannot find a scholarly reference on this, but so folklore and tradition have it. (If you know of one, send it in and get a free subscription if it checks out.*) Celebrate with apples, apple pie, cider, applejack, and the planting of apple trees. Lugh is the divine father of the Celtic champion, Cu Chulain. Reread some of these epics** aloud.
*This still holds.
**The Tain Translated from the Irish Epic Tain Bo Cuailnge, tr. Thomas Kinsella, Oxford University Press, 1983.
News of the Groves
On June 22, 2002, several long-time members of the Reformed Druids of North America gathered on the Hill of Three Oaks, (www.winternet.com/~gmcdavid/html_dir/h3oak.html) at Carleton College, for a Solstice Liturgy and fellowship. This took place as part of the Carleton Alumni Reunion Weekend. Among those present were:
David ("the Chronicler") Frangquist, Arch-Druid of Carleton, 1965-1966 (?), Author of much of the original Chronicles, Patriarch of Belenos
Deborah Gavrin Frangquist, second woman to vigil for the 3rd Order (c. 1966).
Michael Scharding, Arch-Druid of Carleton 1992-1994 (?), compiler of ARDA, historian of the RDNA
Galia (Gerre) Goodman, 3rd Order, 1970
All of them contributed to A Reformed Druid Anthology, and figure significantly in the events and thoughts recorded therein.
Dick had organized the event and presided. David was Preceptor (who else but the Patriarch of Belenos on Midsummer?). The Liturgy was the old Carleton Midsummer Service (see ARDA) with somewhat updated language. For the Waters-of-Life we used Glenmorangie, a single malt, and an impressive upward step from the ancient Black and White.
Afterwards, several of us walked through the Carleton Arb to visit other sites, sort of a Reformed Druid Pilgrimage. We visited Monument Hill; (www.winternet.com/~gmcdavid/html_dir/monhil.html), where the first Druid Services were held in 1963, and where Dick and I both did our 3rd Order vigils. We also visited the Druid’s Den, east of Three Oaks, which has been used by the Carleton Druids in more recent years. Before returning to Campus we walked to Faculty Hill, Site of the first Samhain service. You may have read about it in the Later Chronicles.
For a while Michael, Dick, and David were walking a little bit ahead of the rest of us. This was a particularly impressive--the three most influential Arch-Druids in the history of Carleton together. With the aid of Faris Keeling (one of my Druid contemporaries) I was able to get a couple photographs of this historic chat.
This weekend was particularly meaningful for me. David’s view of Druidism, and indeed of all religion, greatly influenced my own beliefs and I had been wanting to meet him for over 30 years. It was also my first meeting with Michael, to whom we all owe a debt for his revival of interest in the Reform at Carleton and beyond, and for the enormous effort he has put into ARDA and other Druidical projects. I also met Eric Hilleman, who administers the Druid Archives at the Carleton library, and thus ensures that this large collection (see http://www.geocities.com/druidarchives/index.html) will be preserved and enhanced for the future. It was also a chance to talk again with Dick, my predecessor as Arch-Druid of Carleton and my old mentor in matters Druidical, and with other friends old and new from the RDNA.
I hope to post some photos on the Web in the next few weeks. Meanwhile there is a picture of the Franquists at: http://webapps.acs.carleton.edu/alumni/reunion/photos/?pageSet=31 (lower right).
We possess a good time here in Japan. It is unbearably hot and rainy. We gave a big party in August for dead ancestors called “Obon.” Many people visit their parents. I live with my father, but maybe mother will come back from Vietnam. Pat had big adventure across Japan, now is my turn! It will soon be hard for me to travel, so I go now. I am going to Oga half-island by bus, to Namahage land! Pat says it is “tacky,” but I like the place. There will be many festivals in Japan in August, but we will have an easy Druid service, and then harvest rice in a near farm in later August!
Amazon Grove: News from Brazil
Ian apparently came down with a stomach ailment and was taken back to their base camp, but has already returned to whatever scientific studies he is up to down there (or is he on vacation?!). He just wanted people to know, “The trees are just grand down here, but not safely huggable, because of the little critters swarming around here.” As always, we await our next installment of postcards.
Digitalis Grove: News from DC
My vacation to Carleton College went well and although I was unable to meet any of the Archdruids, I did get to meet Sancho (2nd) who is working in the Druid Archives there. He reminded me of how blissfully simple some of the Druids can be in a non-organized sense, even while those in charge are busy running things in a formal manner. He assisted me in sifting through the archives for more potential additions to the second edition of ARDA (mostly Liturgical materials and letters). As a side note, my Druidesque movie, Drake’s 7, which was mostly filmed with Alumni Druids is visually edited and awaiting soundtrack and F/X, possibly by Christmas.
At the folk dance reunion, I met with David and Dee Frangquist (AD 64-66), Dick Shelton (AD 69-71), Glenn McDavid (AD71-72), Gerre Galia Goodman (ARDA, pt2), Faris Keeling (’74), and several Druids from the 70s and 90s. As usual, it was an honor to meet with them, listen to their wisdom and join them for a summer solstice ritual on the Hill of Three Oaks; followed by an arboretum tour of Druid holy sites and the Rocks of Irony. Earl the Dog participated in all the aforementioned activities enthusiastically.
Dravidia Grove: News from Maryland
Actually things here are kinda slow. Am working a lot of hours, and this area is in serious need of rain. We have had some interesting developments in the area with a new fish found in Maryland. It is the Frankenfish, somewhat of a rarity here. I am doing some research on the migration. Other than that the Grove is quiet.
Irony Sade of Volcano Grove has moved back to the States and says Hemlock Splinters Grove should be active again before too long. He would love to put it in touch with the (frighteningly) organized members of the RDNA. This additional news just in from him:
We had a couple of massive full moon bonfires, and visited a ritual performed by a Peruvian shaman for the solstice. Other than that, the tadpoles are frogging, the new snapping turtle has been eating wood ducks, and the oak tree planted from one of the acorns from the old Carleton grove has stretched another foot or so toward the sky. Impromptu music seems to be playing a central part in our gatherings. In other news, I was doing some research at the Eastman School of Music on the old wire strung harps--which I am learning to play--and found a book from the 1780’s which attempted to trace the history and antiquity of the Irish harp by linking it back to the druidic traditions. I am working with the curator to spend more time in the archives. The books are climate controlled, and I live far away, but I’ll see what can be learned...
Eurisko Grove: News from Virginia
The Eurisko Grove is in Hampton, VA and we can be reached at email@example.com. “Eurisko” in Greek means “I discover things” which is the general approach we have to our Druidry. We are all previously Wiccan trained and studying under ADF.
Five members in total; three humans (Mike "Gwydion” Ream, Jacquie Ream, Vonn Gants), one dog (Apollo), and one cat (Agnes).
Our length of office is generally one year from Yule to Yule.
Mike and Jacquie Ream = co-senior druids
Vonn Gants = student
Apollo = head of security
Agnes = keeper of mysteries
Our basic tenets are:
1) Nature is good
2) When in doubt consult your nearest tree
3) Question authority
4) Each member of Eurisko Grove is encouraged to study under different teachers
5) Suggested titles of recognition; protégé, contemporary, and mentor
6-10) To come as we think of them
We started the process of ploughing through the ARDA and interested in vigiling sometime. Jacquie and I are both members of Grove of the Other Gods (ADF).
All is hectic at the Grove...We are re-locating the grove to another site here in the area, we are currently looking at land, the land that we currently use is being sold and we need a permanent grove area. The spirit of the Grove lives, no matter where it is located. Thanks to our members and friends who have pledged their help in the re-location and re-dedication of Swamp Grove, it should all be resolved within a couple of stress-filled months. A great summer wish to all our Brothers and Sisters in the reform.
Oaken Circle Grove: News from Kentucky
Greetings from the Oaken Circle Grove of KY, we are happy to announce that our grove is still growing and that we are making progress towards becoming incorporated and one day tax exempt.
Our solstice celebration was a success and you can find some pics of it on our webpage, we are currently planning out Lughnasadh gathering. We hope it will be a success as well. We recently had a paganing for four-month-old Laurelin, it was a beautiful ceremony and we would like to welcome her to a life of the old ways and hope that she gains all the knowledge of the ancestors as well. Much of the information on our grove is on our webpage, please feel free to check it out:
Mojo grove spent Summer Solstice communing with nature, and a small group of like-minded folks from a local Tribe of First People/Native American/Aboriginal/Indians (we don’t know which is PC anymore, and don’t wanna be disrespectful) mostly, Mojo grove members observed the ceremony as guests and absorbed the vibes, and added our own (vibes). Then it was food, drink, and merriment for all. For the upcoming Lughnasadh we will be observing the astronomical date (although if something comes up for the calendar Lughnasadh--well, we’re flexible!) Near the astronomical date will be a powwow with the same tribe, and Juju is working on being a part of the ceremonies as a token Druid. Will report in the Mabon issue (do we have a Mabon issue?).
Fairy Spell Grove: News from California
Hey--Just an update here...
I have been buried in work over the last two months creating an email service ala hotmail. Well, it finally works and dare I say looks pretty damned cool!
Now that leads to my super-secret project--which is (shh!) www.faeriespell.net
Which is kinda empty and blank and boring at the moment. But...now that the email service itself works and the basic templates are designed to my exacting specifications I am going to start work soon on my grand design, that being: a pagan (well druidic, but the heathen-dog pagans can come along and find a happy home too!) portal. Webmail basically--again ala Hotmail/Yahoo, but with sections people can visit to chat with other pagans, post news, create mailing lists and most important of all--a complete and ever-expanding library of knowledge. This includes in-depth lessons from those who know (think “Pagan University”) and spell help, ritual ideas for the creatively challenged (including fun and rather zany ritual ideas), humor and of course a place to share thoughts and ideas.
I have been working on this concept for nigh many a year and now it is almost ready to build.
My question is simply this: Have I forgotten anything? Are there any happy pagans out there who might like to contribute their computer skills, web design abilities, art or lessons/contacts/ideas to this project?
I am fairly certain that I have all of the bases covered and am not asking for anyone to do any work for me. But it seems the considerate thing to do to get some feedback and/or a wish list if people want before I have everything “set in stone” so to speak.
Oh well...I don’t really think this qualifies as “news” yet, but if you have any ideas on how I can get the word out that we are open to assistance or even just general rants while we build this monster I would be deeply appreciative.
Faerie Spell grove
Hazelnut Grove: News from California
The wheel turned to the time that Stephen Abbott, the ArchDruid, also called Tyroch Windtraveler, should celebrate his natal day. Stacey of the East Bay said, “This is important!” and gathered the faithful to sojourn up to the north where Stephen abode.
And he did abide in a flat with two women, another man, a dog and a cat. The other man, called by name Brian, cooked hamburgers for all. The faithful sat with Stephen, saw his toys and wondered. Stephen did open his gifts with many an ooh and ah. There was a cake that was so rich no one could bear to have more than a thin slice.
This chronicler wanted to do a reading for him, but the time was taken up by a motion picture on the talking box. Before dark, the faithful descended to the south to their own abodes.
Baccharis Grove: News from California
Due to the intervention of Life, the Universe and Everything that it entails, Baccharis Grove is in hiatus for now. The Arch Druid and the Server celebrated Summer Solstice with the rites of Weberos, duly offering charred sacrifices to the Gods. They seemed to be warmly accepted.
They also replanted their three little Oak trees, grown from acorns gathered from Grove property, and found that it was just in time. Says the Server “Although the Oaks are only one year old and quite small, their tap roots had grown extremely long and were in danger of growing out of their large 12” pots, getting trapped and being broken. That is the main danger in transplanting an Oak, if the taproot breaks the tree will very likely not survive. All three were transplanted successfully and seem to be thriving in their new 20” pots. As they were transplanted, they were dedicated to the Earth Mother (we know, that seems superfluous) and asked to grow and be healthy and happy in their new home on our property. We have also discover that our little apple tree has eight small apples that are growing nicely and the grape vines that we thought were decorative have many clusters of green grapes! They are probably Thompson’s but I’m hoping for Muscat’s. The roses are blooming profusely and our damask rose scented geraniums are huge, four to five feet across. Our neighbors have already picked several five-gallon buckets of green beans, cucumbers and huge cabbages. They happily share their bounty with us and we are all looking forward to tomatoes! The Earth Mother has certainly been generous with us!”
Poison Oak Grove: News from California
“Leaves of Three, Let It Be.”
In a fit of severe anti-socialism the Preceptor of Baccharis Grove has decided to take a sabbatical. She has formed a “contingency” grove by the name of Poison Oak Grove (seemed fitting), though to be considered a “legal” grove in the RDNA tradition there needs to be three officers, she likes the sense of “groveness.”
Though it was overcast the morning of the Summer Solstice she rose early to watch where the Sun would have risen had she been able to see it. As one person put it, Belenos was being quite demure. After all, He’s done the same floorshow for so long he can be subtle from time to time.
Some Possible Lughnasadh Activities
By Alex Strongbow, a Druid Lost in the Woods
Basically, early August is a "hey, the farming is turning out alright!" agricultural festival and horse race time. Because it is a rather warm time of the year, and like other parts of the Northern Hemisphere, it is also a good time for big crowds of people to travel and have some constructive fun. Tailtiu, Lugh's mom, is commemorated in funeral games that last a week or so. I've put together a list of some events that might be done throughout August.
Food was scarce before the harvest, so you might consider fasting before the festival begins, eating only seasonal foods that you can research as being available before world-grocering began. Perhaps combined with a camping trip, to test your rigor.
Brehon Wedding/Handfasting: A young couple will put their hand through a hole in a stone and pledge to officiant and public their intention to try living together for a year before deciding on a permanent marriage.
Settling of Legal Disputes: Advice or mediation in long-term disputes could be sought from other members of the grove (perhaps on slips of paper pulled from an anonymous box). Alliances with other organizations may be approved now.
Horse racing: Well, few of us have horses, but a trip to a derby, dog track, or Nascar race would be appropriate, as would attending a summer track and field meet. Gambling is encouraged. If you do have a few horses (or can rent them), it is traditional to race along a river or ford a river mid-race.
Bonfire: Not associated with hearth-fires, but just for fun and illumination of nocturnal partying. Sacrifice bad habits and unwanted things from your life by throwing symbols of them into the fire, this is good anytime. Perhaps, a competition between teams to build the biggest/oddest Lammas tower?
Prearrange to collect the last sheaf of wheat from a farmer and make it a Cailleach doll (old woman), much like the Bride-og at Oimelc in February. It should be placed on the mantle over the winter and destroyed in the spring, perhaps ploughed into the ground.
Celtic Olympics: Yes the games of Tailtean, were held until the time of the Norman invasions in the 12th century. Perhaps modeling them on a highland games, which are frequent this time of year, would be apt. Events could include:
Wrestling in either Greco-Roman fashion (pinning shoulders to the ground), Sumo (no touching ground except feet or leaving circle) or WWF Smackdown rules.
Hammer Toss, Shot put, heavy rock lifting or caber toss
Sword dancing, country dancing, interpretive dance etc.
Long jump, high jump, pole-vaulting with walking sticks
Boffer-sword/Quarter-staff bouts, preferably on a log over a river.
Massive tug-a-wars, wacky relays, tag, human pyramids, or egg-toss contests.
Archery, fire-arms, catapulting, slinging or spear toss contest
Have a "Rhibo," a welsh game where people line up facing each other, making a bed of arms and then fling them up in the air. It is advisable to catch them on the way down.
Mental contests for the less physically-gifted: Chess, poetry, story-telling, lying contests, geometry jousts and math matches (bring out old SAT prep sheets), joke-telling, banjo-dueling, scavenging hunts.
Large elaborate parades or activities to test the strength and endurance of young folk, usually through a forest, to a special spring or well or curving up and around a hill.
Make plans for the winterization preparations.
Feasting!: Foodstuffs include Beef, broccoli, cherries, spinach, any type of early berry, corn, potatoes, homemade bread (particularly wheat, oat, and especially corn bread), berry pies, barley cakes, nuts, apples, rice, roast lamb, acorns, crab apples, summer squash, turnips, oats, and all grains. Drinks: Elderberry Wine, Mead, Ale, Meadowsweet Tea, and Cider
If you live near an abattoir, you could attempt a Tarbh Feis (cattle meditation) by wrapping yourself in a freshly killed bull's hide after eating 10 pounds of beef at a crossroads and sleeping overnight while Druids sing around you. You could then prophesy the 2002 elections by this method, perhaps, or the fertility of the harvest might be gauged from your dreams.
Offer first-fruits from your garden and plant all the seed of fruits eaten at festival. Bake a loaf of bread in the guise of a man and tear him apart by wildcats. Include bilberries or blueberries in your feast; these were a traditional fruit, whose abundance was seen as an indicator of the harvest to come. Make a cornwheel of ripe grains.