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There is Something About Fire

Many of us divide the agricultural year into quarters (Solstices and Equinoxes) and then again into eighths (the Cross-quarter days). Eight convenient notches that mark the movement of the year from resting and fallow times to planting, then on to tending and finally harvest.

We think these cross-quarters are based on old Irish celebrations that we have come to call "Celtic Fire Festivals." We're in one now--Lughnasadh.

Lots of Pagan-folk (or whatever you choose to call yourselves these days) love a lot of fire, and I confess to being awfully fond of bonfires and brazier-fires myself. Elementally speaking, I lean more towards Earth and Water, but there is something about fire, isn't there?

Last night, the Goddess Conference arranged a Lammas bonfire and we all processed to a big field on the foot of the Tor. A cow field--I know because it was decorated (I almost typed "festooned") with cow patties, both old and new.

There was a beautifully stacked pile of wood and we began with the customary circling up and invocations of the Divines. The day was perfect, too--bright but cool. I stood with my Asheville friend Helen and we dutifully raised our priestess-y arms and turned the Wheel and honored directions and divinities.

And then I looked back towards the summit of the Tor--barely visible through the trees--and saw a line of torches.

No, really. Torches. They were carried in by robed priestesses as the crown chanted. When they reached the circle, they took up positions around it and lit the bonfire.

Then, you know--drumming, dancing. That sort of thing.

But it was the sight of those torches that sent thrills up my tired legs. So wild and dangerous.  I thought of all those Frankenstein movies where the townspeople storm the castle with pitchforks and fiery torches.

Yea, baby. Fire = good.

Blessed Lughnasadh! Happy Lammas! And for those of you who are in the midst of blossoming spring--Blessed Imbolc!

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H. Byron Ballard is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has taught at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Southeast Her essays are featured in several anthologies, including “Birthed from Scorched Hearts“ (Fulcrum Press), “Christmas Presence“ (Catawba Press), “Women’s Voices in Magic” (Megalithica Books), “Into the Great Below” and “Skalded Apples” (both from Asphodel Press.) Her book Staubs and Ditchwater: an Introduction to Hillfolks Hoodoo (Silver Rings Press) debuted in June 2012. Byron is currently at work on Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet. Contact her at,


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