In the ancient days of the world, when all was still mostly froth and chaos, there lived two great Kings. The Oak King was the ruler of the places that were light, and the Holly King ruled the places that were dark. At first They feared one another; for the Holly King was the master of the places that the Oak King dared not go, and the Oak King was the master of the places that the Holly King dared not go. What secrets might the other be keeping? But the Goddess of the Moon and Stars knew Them both, and She bade Them to go to one another. “You’ll like Him!” She told each of Them with the twinkle of the stars in Her deep dark eyes. “You’ll see!”
So They agreed to meet at the border of Twilight, where light and dark meet. The Goddess guided Them to the meeting place with the twinkles of Her eyes, and then She tactfully withdrew.
We call it Lammas or Lunasa, and think of it as marking the commencement of the grain harvest.
And so indeed it does. In Western Minnesota, they're beginning the cutting of the “small grains” even as you read this.
But here in the New World, this was a festival long before the ships from Europe arrived with their sacks of seed wheat and barley.
“Green Corn,” they called it, and among many peoples, it was the greatest feasting of the year.
Maize cultivation came into Northern America from Mexico about 2000 years ago, and spread up along the river valleys. In the Upper Mississippi Valley, where I live, they've kept Green Corn for almost 1000 years now.
If you haven’t yet swum in the mighty Atlantic Ocean, gulped in a little salt water, floated in billowy delicious waves, hiked through deep cream-colored beach sand, picked up shells, jumped to save your bare feet from becoming burnt as you walk over 20 foot, hot dunes, wandered aimlessly in a small New England fishing village, or laughed to an outdoor-theatre Shakespeare Troupe, I highly recommend it. This August saw me doing all of this, and while it was an incredible week, what made it extra special—and a summer’s vacation I will treasure—is that I did it all with my sister.
I've never really had a “regular” summer schedule (whatever “regular” means.) As a child and adolescent my life, like the life of most others, was determined by the start and stop of the school year. I took summer classes in college, and after graduation and marriage I moved to a college town. Those of you who live in similar cities know that the university schedule often determines whether or not the Locals dare to venture downtown, go to parks, drink at bars, or eat at the popular cafes. (Because of crowds of annoying freshman or big-headed seniors, certain parts of my town are pretty much off-limits during certain times of the year.) For a long time I worked on a college campus, and I'd spend the time from May to August sitting back, reading dozens of novels, and drinking delicious, blended beverages. Then I went to graduate school, and after I graduated my first summer of unemployment extended into an autumn of unemployment, a winter, a spring, and now another summer of the same.
Welcome brethren, to the annual celebration of the growing season’s end and the harvest season’s beginning! Although perhaps not as widely known or celebrated as Samhain or Beltaine, Lughnasadh (also known as Lammas), remains an important component of the wheel of the year and an integral part of the annual sabbats, commemorating the point at which summer begins to transition to autumn.
As always, we’ve brought out a collection of content we thought would be of interest to all of you who follow us, some from Witches&Pagans, some from elsewhere. We hope you’ll enjoy!
I have been writing like a maniac and have much writing ahead of me tonight and tomorrow. But tonight I have kissed the final sunset of July good-bye, I have facilitated a Full Moon ritual at Mother Grove Goddess Temple and I am now listening to Steeleye Span.
Lured thither by a search for John Barleycorn, I have settled onto "Now We are Six" and am drinking hard cider from last season's harvest. I have considered my options for the evening--finishing two pieces that are due tomorrow, washing the dishes, tidying up and printing tomorrow's ceremony for our public ritual or drinking cider and singing Steeleye Span.