I’ve been preoccupied with the moon and with travel the past few days and this one just about got by me. I knew in the back of my mind it was coming but perhaps couldn’t deal with the fact that August 1st is already upon us. I have to admit as I’ve been wandering down my pagan path taking the many twists and turns that have come my way, these markings of time on the wheel of the year have not always played a significant role in my growth. Who I am as a pagan is still under construction, and these are only one part of that, a part of a part if you will. There are, as I have said before, many paths within this path and what turn I make next is yet to be determined. Here is some information on today’s stop on the wheel. I have included another reference at the bottom, to a blogger who’s writing I find interesting and informative on this and many other topics. Please note the information on Lughnasadh is not from me but the source is referenced. Ther are more sources out there, no doubt many better ones.
Lughnasadh was one of the four main festivals of the medieval Irish calendar: Imbolc at the beginning of February, Beltane on the first of May, Lughnasadh in August and Samhain in November. The early Celtic calendar was based on the lunar, solar, and vegetative cycles, so the actual calendar date in ancient times may have varied. Lughnasadh marked the beginning of the harvest season, the ripening of first fruits, and was traditionally a time of community gatherings, market festivals, horse races and reunions with distant family and friends. Among the Irish it was a favored time for handfastings – trial marriages that would generally last a year and a day, with the option of ending the contract before the new year, or later formalizing it as a more permanent marriage.
In Celtic mythology, the Lughnasadh festival is said to have been begun by the god Lugh, as a funeral feast and games commemorating his foster-mother, Tailtiu, who died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. The first location of the Áenach Tailteann was at the site of modern Teltown, located between Navan and Kells. Historically, the Áenach Tailteann gathering was a time for contests of strength and skill, and a favored time for contracting marriages and winter lodgings. A peace was declared at the festival, and religious celebrations were also held. A similar Lughnasadh festival was held at Carmun (whose exact location is under dispute). Carmun is also believed to have been a goddess of the Celts, perhaps one with a similar story as Tailtiu.
A festival corresponding to Lughnasadh may have been observed by the Gauls at least up to the first century; on the Coligny calendar, the eighth day of the first half of the month Edrinios, corresponding to the first of August, is marked with the inscription TIOCOBREXTIO that identifies other major feasts. The same date was later adopted for the meeting of all the representatives of Gaul at the Condate Altar in Gallo-Roman times. During the reign of Augustus Caesar the Romans instituted a celebration on August 1 to the genius of the emperor in Lyon, a place believed to have also been named for the Celtic god Lugh.