Thursday, 31 July 2008

Archive: Lùnasdal 2008

I've been meaning to do this post for a while now, but my brain's been refusing to get into gear lately...But since Mr Seren's taken Tom off my hands and Rosie (and Mungo) are asleep and I have a quiet moment, it's a good time to get some thoughts in order about Lùnasdal (Lammas, Lughnasadh, call it what you will)...As ever, if you're not all that interested in my spiritual practises, there's no need to read on. You won't be missing anything...

The weather's been very wet recently, and while it's been quite warm I've been working on the assumption that the crops and autmnal fruits will be taking a while yet to ripen, so I've decided to hold off on celebrations for a few weeks. The rowans are all pretty much ripe now but the blackberries have yet to even stop flowering, although I've seen some with berries that look like they're thinking about starting to ripen. Even the raspberries are still in season (I spotted some growing wild a week or so ago) and they're usually well on their way to getting past their best by now. Summer's definitely coming to an end, though, the thistles (and I'm not sure which type these are, if they are indeed thistles, but they're everywhere at the moment) are out in force:


Last year I made a real effort to get into the festive spirit because of all the festivals, Lùnasdal is generally the one I feel the least connection with. I kept things low key and not too ambitious, contemplative and meditative and found that was a good approach. I was living in Bo'ness then, overlooking the Forth, so I made my bannocks (or pancakes that time, as it turned out, to share with everyone else), sained (cleansed/warded) the house, made the usual evening feast, and took myself off for an evening walk with Eddie to make offerings of blackberries to Lugh and Tailtiu at the vantage point I used to visit for my daily meditations. I felt a strong connection then and my offerings seemed to be well received. More offerings, made in general this time, followed in the evening before I went to bed and I remember feeling Badb's presence quite strongly as I sat outside in the garden and meditated some more. The next day I took the kids off on a woodland walk and we saw the first crops being harvested as we went (which was pure synchronicity rather than purposeful timing of my celebrations).

This year I'm planning on keeping to the same general outline - making the festival bannocks, saining the house, putting up some rowan and making a good feast for everyone. Last year I didn't really put much emphasis on the first fruits aspect of the festival, so this year I was hoping to find some bilberries growing wild so I could take the kids out to pick them, but I've yet to find any. I've not really seen it mentioned as a Scottish custom specific to this time of year/festival but I do know that bilberry-picking is a popular pastime when they're in season, so it seems appropriate. I might see if the raspberries are still out and pick some for the cream crowdie I'll make for pudding, instead - the bushes are on the way to the beach so I can pick them as I make my way to make some offerings.

Seeing as the rowans are heavy with lots of berries this year I've been thinking about collecting some so I can dry them and make a necklace out of them. McNeill mentions that they were worn by 'common' women for protection as an alternative to red coral or amber necklaces that upper class ladies often wore for the same purpose. I have some amber beads as well, so I might experiment with them both and see how it turns out. If anything, I'm hoping it will make a nice adornment to my little sacred space in the kitchen, and be a good focus for concentrating and meditating on the meaning of the day and so on.

The sweeter bannocks I made at Bealltainn worked well so I think I'll do them again, and dinner will probably be the usual roast lamb or pork or whatever. I decided against planting any fruit or veg in the garden this year, not wanting to be too overambitious, so I don't really have anything to harvest from the garden in that sense. I did put some herbs in, so I might use some rosemary for the roast or something, in the spirit of harvesting some sort of 'crop' for my celebrations, and I'll probably bring some flowers in to decorate the house as well. I've been busy weeding and tending to the flowerbeds in anticipation of the day (I like to get the house in order for my celebrations, so it's nice and welcoming for my special 'guests', so to speak) and I've been pleased and surprised to see how much of what I've planted seems to have flourished. The rowan I planted seems to have settled in well - not much growth, but what growth there has been seems to be very healthy so far.

I'm sure there'll be more I'll think of to be doing, but that's all that springs to mind...