Posts Tagged ‘Lughnasadh’

First of all, to those in the Northern Hemisphere with me, Blessed Lughnasadh! May your first harvest – whether physical or spiritual – be plentiful. If you’re unfamiliar with the festival, click here to check out an article from The Order of Bards, Ovates, & Druids.

We’ve had a pretty and crazy week in our house, but I was trying to think of a little way to bring a sense of the season into the day. When my boyfriend asked what was for breakfast, I pondered it and then told him Blueberry Corn Cakes for Sabbat! He looked like he didn’t know what they were, so I assured him he’d had them before.

“Do you put syrup on them,” he asked.

“Yup,” I replied.

“We’re good then!”

He’s my funny guy. They were yummy though.

Yesterday’s card that focused on building skills was actually perfect for this holiday named after the many-skilled Celtic god Lugh. But today’s draw of Juniper suggests cleaning and blessing things to make space for and to welcome something new, whether that be a new project to undertake or a new relationship.

Hope everyone has a great day!

JUNIPER – cleansing, pioneering, magic (and criticism, self-consciousness, longevity)

In the old days, juniper was used to cleanse houses, cattle, and people in preparation for the coming of summer. This card may mean there is something you need to complete or clear away before you begin a new project or phase. There is a saying: before you can welcome something new, you need to say goodbye to something that needs release. If you are having difficulty beginning a new endeavor or relationship, perhaps you must first attend to an old one – to tie up loose ends and complete the cycle.

This card may also suggest that it is time to pay attention to the significance of beginnings. How we start something determines in many ways the journey and the outcome that will follow. This is why intention, forethought, and planning are so important. The art of living well lives in maintaining a genuine sense of spontaneity, while still acting thoughtfully and purposefully.

Juniper is a powerful disinfectant. This card may also be a caution to avoid being overly critical. Although the spiritual path helps us to become more and more conscious, there’s often the danger that the very consciousness we seek will purge us of spontaneity and creativity. Too much thought or self-consciousness can spell the death of an idea or an impulse. Just as a human or animal birth can be aborted, so can a new relationship or project if too much analytical thinking is applied. It may take a lifetime to determine the balance needed between impulse and restraint, but if we develop our humanity and our hearts we will gradually come to an intuitive sense of when we should act before thinking, and when we should think before acting.

The juniper is also associated with longevity, and one of the keys to a long life is a learning to combine youthful spontaneity of childhood with the wisdom of age.

The Druid Plant Oracle by authors Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm and artist Will Worthington

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We haven’t seen this card in a while, but it’s one I love because I sometimes need a reminder to let loose and not worry about everyday stuff. Hope this speaks to all of you on this holy day, Lughnasadh! This was the time of the Tailteann games, in honor of Lugh’s stepmother, and it would be a most appropriate time to cut loose and have some fun.



MEANING: Let go. Say yes to life! Be daring. Dance to your heart’s desire. Unfurl your wings and fly. Cast aside conventions and restrictions. Tune in to the rhythm of life. Laugh. Explore. Go beyond your predictable behavior. Sometimes life is messy and chaotic, and that’s okay. Leave the dishes; run outside in the sprinklers.

NATIVE SPIRIT WISDOM: You are on the planet to be free. You don’t always need to meet the expectations of others. You’re here to explore, expand, and step into your extraordinary self. Of course, there are times to live an ordinary life, but there are also times to joyously fling your arms to the heavens and dance. Choose life on your terms. Clear out mental and emotional clutter. Move beyond those situations that you have outgrown. Don’t accept the rules you have placed on yourself or that others have placed on you. This is your time. Don’t delay listening to the rhythm of your heart and following your dreams.

THE JOURNEY: Turn on music and move. Tribal dance isn’t about looking good. It’s about feeling the beat inside your heart and expressing this with your body and your emotions. If you want to break free, then start first by expressing yourself, wild and free, and the circumstances of your life will transform.

Native Spirit Oracle by Denise Linn, art by Charles McStravick

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PTM sunflowers

Almost four weeks ago was the holy day of Lughnasadh as well as the fifth anniversary of this blog.

I should have been excited and whooping it up, but I’ve just not been feeling it. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I tend to feel more connected to the harvest than many other people do today. But the last couple years have simply not been as productive in that literal way. My volunteer time at the community garden has not been fruitful, due mostly to the changing weather patterns and simply not having enough volunteers to keep up. With these two issues stacking up, we just can’t keep the weeds out, plants watered and maintained, and so forth. The sad part is that we haven’t produced even 10 percent of what we’re used to giving to the local food bank – one year we donated 10,000 pounds of produce. In sharp contrast, this year and last we’ve only turned in a few buckets here and there.

The only things that have actually done well in the community garden have been the herbs, newly planted elderberry, and wildflowers, including the sunflowers that the birds help to resow in the garden every year.

PTM elderberry

My personal small garden hasn’t done well this year either – again only herbs are taking off. Tincture making and home crafting (except making jelly, of course) have all but come to a halt. Holy day observances, save for Samhain and Yule, have pretty much been been reduced to a mental acknowledgement on my part.

Even this blog has been neglected a bit though I should have been excited at the fifth anniversary.

As Lughnasadh approached and I started to let all this sink in, I was feeling a bit disappointed in myself for letting things slip. Then I ran across this blog post about how Lughnasadh/Lammas isn’t just about the harvest – it’s also about sacrifice. Well, duh, I thought to myself. In mythology, of course, we’re referring to the sacrifices like that of Tailtiu, the Celtic god Lugh’s step mother who died of exhaustion while trying to clear the land for agriculture.

PTM herbsEven though it wasn’t a direct correlation, something in this blog are me realize that my harvest wasn’t less than in the past, it just wasn’t the same kind of harvest. In the past couple years, I’ve dealt with a lot of personal loss – my mother and three dear dog family members are gone. If loss doesn’t turn you bitter or sad, it makes you realize that you have to take every opportunity to enjoy life: kiss the dog on the nose every morning, take time to have tea with friends, learn to be silly, and chat up the cute guy at the art club – which is exactly what I did.

The result of that is I’m now living with that cute artist and his beautiful daughter – the first time in more than a decade that I’ve lived with anyone else. These relationships are precious and need to be cultivated through time and attention. Sometimes when we want to move forward in a new direction, we have to sacrifice some old activities and habits to do this. Time in the garden has become time with them. The rewards of this is a harvest of its own kind: nourishment for the heart and soul instead of the body.

Given all this, next year instead of me trucking off to the community garden across town, we plan to add a couple raised beds to our backyard so we can still have a harvest that we can work on and enjoy together. It may not produce 10,000 pounds for the food bank, but we can still make some small donations and that’s OK. Letting yourself change and do something different is a part of sacrifice. It might seem a small one, but for some people letting go of what they expect of themselves is a big accomplishment. It’s letting go of who you were in order to be who you want to be now.

So next time you’re beating yourself up for not doing as much as you used to, think about what you might be doing now that you didn’t think of – or perhaps you are giving yourself some needed time for self-care. It’s all good. Really.

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I’m not sure how the Celtic god Lugh had time for games at the first of August – I’m always a busy, busy bee this time of year. Of course, Lugh was holding the festival games in honor of his belated stepmother (learn a bit about this here), but I guess time can stand still for a deity unlike we mere mortals.

I’ve been chomping at the bit to finish up my Airmid cloak posts and to work on a story about spiritual beekeeping, but the hours of summer have been flying by with gardening, berry and grape picking (and the subsequent jelly and jam making) getting out in nature while the sun shines, and so forth. And I know I’ve touched on this in the past, but it seems to be true every summer.

Just last night was a beautiful evening to pick the grapes that are finally ripening.

Picking grapes for jelly

Picking grapes for jelly


And the sky as I picked from the vines was gorgeous!

And the sky as I picked from the vines was gorgeous!

Also, I’ve been hard at drying herbs and making tinctures and glycerites (herbal medicines for those unfamiliar with the terms) from both bought and wild-crafted herbs. The corner of my kitchen has been jam-packed with chocolate mint, yarrow leaves and blossoms, lemon balm, lemon verbena, and more!

Mint, yarrow leaves, lemon balm, and yarrow flowers all dry in the kitchen.

Mint, yarrow leaves, lemon balm, and yarrow flowers all dry in the kitchen.

What have all of you been up to the last month or so?

Whether you have been hard at it or just relaxing, have a blessed Lughnasadh (or Lammas, if you prefer)!

Bright blessings,


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Wishing everyone out there a blessed Lughnasadh! This first harvest celebration stems from the festival created by the Irish god Lugh to honor his foster mother, Tailtiu, who died from exhaustion after clearing a forest so the land could be used for agriculture.

When we live in a way that connects us to our food source, this myth works as solid metaphor for the hard work of putting up summer’s bounty to help get through the winter. Growing up, my family depended on our half-acre garden, apple tree, and blackberry brambles to provide us with much of our food supply. And as we spent most of July and early August canning and freezing vegetables and making jelly and applesauce, I can honestly say we were exhausted at this time of year.

But there is also a joy and sense of pride that comes from this work, much like the pride Lugh had in his foster mother. I remember looking at the rows of canned goods in the well house and feeling happy – and secure. Even though I no longer have to work long hours in a garden and kitchen to stay fed through winter, I still enjoy creating things from the harvest.

Homemade preserves are one way to stay connected with the harvest cycle.

So far this year, I’ve put up several batches of black raspberry jelly (courtesy of a juice from a friend), blackberry jelly (including a sage variety), grape jelly, strawberry margarita jam, and “Farmer’s Market Salsa” featuring fresh sweet corn cut from the cob. Not only do these homemade preserves taste much better than the store-bought variety, but making and sharing them helps me feel connected to my recent roots as well as to my ancestors who lived off the land.

So is there something you or your family always did (or still do) to enjoy the fresh fruits and veggies of the harvest? Do you continue these traditions and, if so, how does it make you feel?

‘Parting the Mists’ Turns One-Year Old!

This post also marks the one-year anniversary of this blog! While I didn’t meet my goals of posting twice a week and haven’t posted much in recent months, I look forward to reinvigorating this site.

On the horizon, I see a belated post for the Pagan Values project (which should have been posted in June, oh my) as well as posts digging into the following topics:

  • Examining the history and myths of places believed to be Avalon
  • Energy work, especially as related to healing
  • Creatures of Celtic myth and legend (think faery hounds, unicorns, etc.)
  • Books related to the tradition
  • How the Avalonian, Grail, and Arthurian trads are – or aren’t – connected

Speaking of future posts, is there anything special you’d like to see covered here?

Until next time, bright summer blessings!


(Photos courtesy of

© 2012 PJ Graham

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