To all of us in the Southern Hemisphere a Blessed Imbolc, as we head towards Spring and hopefully the warmer weather may all your wishes come true. The flowers in our garden are trying to bloom, hopefully with a bit of sun they will. Blessed Be!
Posted on July 20, 2010 by Jenwytch at The Other Side. This article is also in the July 2010 edition of the “Axis Mundi”.
Imbolc is a cross-quarter day midway between the winter solstice (Yule) and the spring equinox (Ostara) and is the celebration of the banishing of winter, the imminent arrival of Spring and the stirring of new life in the earth. Imbolc recognizes the maiden aspect of the triple goddess – the fresh, the young, the naïve, the new – and is strongly connected with the Goddess Brigid. It is associated with and also known as the festivals of Oimelc, Imbolg, Imbolic (Irish), Candlemas (British), Feast of Torches, Lupercalia (Italian/Latin), Brigid’s Day, and Brigantia (Scottish).
Here in the southern hemisphere, in 21st century Australia, we are far removed from the climate and rural lifestyles of the people of ancient Europe where this festival, and others that make up the Wheel Of The Year, originated.
Due to the 6 month offset of the seasons between the northern and southern hemispheres many Australian Pagans prefer to celebrate Imbolc when it is seasonally appropriate here, on August 1st or 2nd, instead of on the traditional northern hemisphere date of February 2nd. Although the majority of modern day Aussie Pagans live in cities or the suburbs we can still look to our backyard gardens, public suburban parks or the National Parks and bushland reserves scattered all around us to see evidence of the cycle of the seasons relevant to this time of year.
Colours commonly associated with Imbolc are white, lavender, green, blue and gold. At lmbolc, the Australian forests are bright with the colour yellow, with many species of Acacia trees coming into full flower. Until fairly recently, the 1st of August was “Wattle Day” in Australia (it has since been moved to the 1st of September). In some climates, like southern Australia and New Zealand, snow and frosts prevail throughout winter, and white snowdrops and crocuses are among the first delicate harbingers of spring. Other flowers associated with this festival are the violet and lavender. In Australia the native violet and other mauve or purple flowers, such as the Black-eyed Susan, which are in bloom around this time of year, can be thought of as the flowers of Imbolc.
My personal “Imbolc flower”, although not native, is Lavender, simply because I planted an abundance of Lavender plants in my garden some years ago and they all thrived and continued to flower profusely. Each Imbolc I have decorated my altar with bunches of Lavender from my garden.
In general, Imbolc is a time for planting seeds and to recognize one’s duty to nurture inner seeds of growth as well as the physical seeds of the earth; to consider personal goals and dreams, and to embrace inspiration. It is common to bless and burn candles of inspiration at Imbolc rituals. You can approach situations and people with open eyes and open heart, and coupled with planning, this fresh approach to life can inspire your every moment to be happier and more energetic.
http://www.akashawitchcraft.net (website no longer available)
http://www.lucycavendish.com (original Imbolg page no longer available)
Lammas – Northern Hemisphere
To everyone in Northern Hemisphere, as you celebrate Lammas may the days become cooler and give you some respite from the unbearable heat. Prepare for the winter months snuggling for a fire or under a blanket. Blessed Be!
By Patti Wigington, About.com
The Beginning of the Harvest:
At Lammas, also called Lughnasadh, the hot days of August are upon us, much of the earth is dry and parched, but we still know that the bright reds and yellows of the harvest season are just around the corner. Apples are beginning to ripen in the trees, our summer vegetables have been picked, corn is tall and green, waiting for us to come gather the bounty of the crop fields. Now is the time to begin reaping what we have sown, and gathering up the first harvests of grain, wheat, oats, and more.
This holiday can be celebrated either as a way to honor the god Lugh, or as a celebration of the harvest.
Celebrating Grain in Ancient Cultures:
Grain has held a place of importance in civilization back nearly to the beginning of time. Grain became associated with the cycle of death and rebirth. The Sumerian god Tammuz was slain and his lover Ishtar grieved so heartily that nature stopped producing. Ishtar mourned Tammuz, and followed him to the Underworld to bring him back, similar to the story of Demeter and Persephone.
In Greek legend, the grain god was Adonis. Two goddesses, Aphrodite and Persephone, battled for his love. To end the fighting, Zeus ordered Adonis to spend six months with Persephone in the Underworld, and the rest with Aphrodite.
A Feast of Bread:
In early Ireland, it was a bad idea to harvest your grain any time before Lammas — it meant that the previous year’s harvest had run out early, and that was a serious failing in agricultural communities. However, on August 1, the first sheaves of grain were cut by the farmer, and by nightfall his wife had made the first loaves of bread of the season.
The word Lammas derives from the Old English phrase hlaf-maesse, which translates to loaf mass. In early Christian times, the first loaves of the season were blessed by the Church.
Honoring Lugh, the Skillful God:
In some Wiccan and modern Pagan traditions, Lammas is also a day of honoring Lugh, the Celtic craftsman god. He is a god of many skills, and was honored in various aspects by societies both in the British Isles and in Europe. Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-NAS-ah) is still celebrated in many parts of the world today. Lugh’s influence appears in the names of several European towns.
Honoring the Past:
In our modern world, it’s often easy to forget the trials and tribulations our ancestors had to endure. For us, if we need a loaf of bread, we simply drive over to the local grocery store and buy a few bags of prepackaged bread. If we run out, it’s no big deal, we just go and get more. When our ancestors lived, hundreds and thousands of years ago, the harvesting and processing of grain was crucial. If crops were left in the fields too long, or the bread not baked in time, families could starve. Taking care of one’s crops meant the difference between life and death.
By celebrating Lammas as a harvest holiday, we honor our ancestors and the hard work they must have had to do in order to survive. This is a good time to give thanks for the abundance we have in our lives, and to be grateful for the food on our tables. Lammas is a time of transformation, of rebirth and new beginnings.
Symbols of the Season
The Wheel of the Year has turned once more, and you may feel like decorating your house accordingly. While you probably can’t find too many items marked as “Lammas decor” in your local discount store, there are a number of items you can use as decoration for this harvest holiday.
Crafts, Song and Celebration
Because of its association with Lugh, the skilled god, Lammas (Lughnasadh) is also a time to celebrate talents and craftsmanship. It’s a traditional time of year for craft festivals, and for skilled artisans to peddle their wares. In medieval Europe, guilds would arrange for their members to set up booths around a village green, festooned with bright ribbons and fall colors. Perhaps this is why so many modern Renaissance Festivals begin around this time of year!
Sickles and scythes, as well as other symbols of harvesting
Grapes and vines
Dried grains — sheafs of wheat, bowls of oats, etc.
Corn dolls — you can make these easily using dried husks
Early fall vegetables, such as squashes and pumpkins
Late summer fruits, like apples, plums and peaches
Lugh is also known in some traditions as the patron of bards and magicians. Now is a great time of year to work on honing your own talents. Learn a new craft, or get better at an old one. Put on a play, write a story or poem, take up a musical instrument, or sing a song. Whatever you choose to do, this is the right season for rebirth and renewal, so set August 1 as the day to share your new skill with your friends and family.