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Monday, August 1, 2011
Happy Lughnasadh: It's Hot, HOT, HOT!!
For about a week now I've been feeling an urge to change out my early summer silk flowers and garlands to my early fall colors. This morning while my computer was installing new software, I took the time to take down a garland of morning glories and change it out with one chock full of small golden-faced miniature sunflowers. I didn't really know why I was feeling so pushed to do this, it's still the middle of summer after all. But I just knew I HAD to do it.
Turns out that this time is when the Wheel of the Year begins to shift from growing time to harvest time. The subtle changes of the shortening days are adding up. The nights are a bit longer now, but the days seem to be hotter than ever - and they are! (See my last newsletter for the story of the dog days of summer, which we are now well into. These are currently celebrated in the United States as National Air Conditioning Weeks. Seriously.)
This time is known as Lughnasadh (Loo-NAH-sah), honoring Lugh, the sun god of the ancient Celtic warriors. His name, like Lucifer and Luke, comes from the ancient Celtic word for light. August 1st is also referred to as Lammas, (loaf-mass; loaf of bread) to honor the first harvest of grain. The seasonal changes in weather are there for you to see if you look. Tropical storms blow through to stir up the seasons, high pressure areas battle lows in awesome thunderstorms, the cicadas roar, the wooly caterpillars hide out, the no-see-ums are voraciously viscious, and the declining arc of the sun moves further south. Day by day the sinking sun directs a different angle of light through different windows at different angles and different times. While the turning of the Wheel of the Year is slow, it is still apparent for the aware. No matter how distracted you may be, you're noticing the heat! It is said that even after Lughnasadh, the corn ripens as much by night as by day
Although temperatures can still be high, the mood and sensation of the year most decidedly changes. Sweet, soft summer nights are the best of times to be outdoors (after the mosquito feeding hours). While we're not farmers ourselves, we are moving into harvest time. You're seeing corn on the cob in the grocery stores now - next thing you know there will be pumpkins! Cold beer is the perfect way to enjoy the grains during these hot days.
Recently I had an epiphany as I came to realize that every one of us lives as plants and animals sacrifice their lives to feed us. Truly the sense of the "communion" took on an entirely more vast meaning. The "deal" is that they gladly give their lives in exchange for your appreciation of their sacrifice. I now take the time to bless not just my water, but all the food I eat: salad, steak, bread, fruit - they all are giving me life they took from the sun either directly (through photosynthesis) or indirectly (by eating plants or other animals which at plants). It all goes back to the sun god - the source of our light and life.
As the Wheel of the Year continues to turn, our next big point will be the Autumn Equinox, September 21st. While the heat will still be with us here in Houston, you may, if you put your face into the wind, smell Autumn coming as August ends. It doesn't take too much to recognize that summer is coming to an end. Back to school days are upon us. Savor the days of summer and share some of Nature's bounty with loved ones to honor the day.