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  1. #1
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    Unhappy August 1 Happy Lughnasadh (Better than observing the anniversary of proscription!)

    August 1st is the anniversary of proscription in 1747 - not a particularly happy memory for Scots or Albaphiles. For that reason, and because with my interest in faiths of varied sorts, and because this is a Celtic-related forum, I like to note some of the ancient Gaelic faith days, and just for fun and interest, prefer to notice that it will also be Lughnasadh.

    Lughnasadh or Lughnasa (/ˈluːnəsə/ LOO-nə-sə) is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. In Modern Irish it is called Lúnasa, in Scottish Gaelic: Lùnastal, and in Manx: Luanistyn. Traditionally it is held on 1 August, or about halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. But, in recent centuries some of the celebrations shifted to the Sundays nearest this date.

    Lughnasadh is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Samhain, Imbolc and Beltane. It corresponds to other European harvest festivals such as the Welsh Gŵyl Awst and the English Lammas.

    Lughnasadh is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and has pagan origins. The festival itself is named after the god Lugh. It inspired great gatherings that included religious ceremonies, ritual athletic contests (most notably the Tailteann Games), feasting, matchmaking, and trading. Traditionally there were also visits to holy wells. According to folklorist Máire MacNeill, evidence shows that the religious rites included an offering of the 'First Fruits', a feast of the new food and of bilberries, the sacrifice of a bull, and a ritual dance-play in which Lugh seizes the harvest for mankind and defeats the powers of blight. Many of the activities would have taken place on top of hills and mountains.

    Lughnasadh customs persisted widely until the 20th century, with the event being variously named 'Garland Sunday', 'Bilberry Sunday', 'Mountain Sunday' and 'Crom Dubh Sunday'. The custom of climbing hills and mountains at Lughnasadh has survived in some areas, although it has been re-cast as a Christian pilgrimage. The best known is the 'Reek Sunday' pilgrimage to the top of Croagh Patrick on the last Sunday in July. A number of fairs are also believed to be survivals of Lughnasadh, for example, the Puck Fair.

    Since the late 20th century, Celtic neopagans have observed Lughnasadh, or something based on it, as a religious holiday. In some places, elements of the festival have been revived as a cultural event.

    So... happy Lughnasadh!
    Rev'd Father Bill White: Retired Parish Priest & Elementary Headmaster, lover of God, people (most of them!) dogs, joy, humour & clarity. Legion Padre, theologian, teacher, philosopher, linguist, traditionalist, bon-vivant, encourager of hearts & souls & a firm believer in dignity, decency, & duty. A proud Canadian Sinclair.

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  3. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Father Bill View Post
    August 1st is the anniversary of proscription in 1747 - not a particularly happy memory for Scots or Albaphiles. For that reason, and because with my interest in faiths of varied sorts, and because this is a Celtic-related forum, I like to note some of the ancient Gaelic faith days, and just for fun and interest, prefer to notice that it will also be Lughnasadh.

    Lughnasadh or Lughnasa (/ˈluːnəsə/ LOO-nə-sə) is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. In Modern Irish it is called Lúnasa, in Scottish Gaelic: Lùnastal, and in Manx: Luanistyn. Traditionally it is held on 1 August, or about halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. But, in recent centuries some of the celebrations shifted to the Sundays nearest this date.

    Lughnasadh is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Samhain, Imbolc and Beltane. It corresponds to other European harvest festivals such as the Welsh Gŵyl Awst and the English Lammas.

    Lughnasadh is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and has pagan origins. The festival itself is named after the god Lugh. It inspired great gatherings that included religious ceremonies, ritual athletic contests (most notably the Tailteann Games), feasting, matchmaking, and trading. Traditionally there were also visits to holy wells. According to folklorist Máire MacNeill, evidence shows that the religious rites included an offering of the 'First Fruits', a feast of the new food and of bilberries, the sacrifice of a bull, and a ritual dance-play in which Lugh seizes the harvest for mankind and defeats the powers of blight. Many of the activities would have taken place on top of hills and mountains.

    Lughnasadh customs persisted widely until the 20th century, with the event being variously named 'Garland Sunday', 'Bilberry Sunday', 'Mountain Sunday' and 'Crom Dubh Sunday'. The custom of climbing hills and mountains at Lughnasadh has survived in some areas, although it has been re-cast as a Christian pilgrimage. The best known is the 'Reek Sunday' pilgrimage to the top of Croagh Patrick on the last Sunday in July. A number of fairs are also believed to be survivals of Lughnasadh, for example, the Puck Fair.

    Since the late 20th century, Celtic neopagans have observed Lughnasadh, or something based on it, as a religious holiday. In some places, elements of the festival have been revived as a cultural event.

    So... happy Lughnasadh!
    Thank you for this most interesting post. It is entirely likely that this festival is older than the Celts, perhaps much older. It certainly has agricultural origins. Could it go back to the Bronze age? Neolithic? Little snippets of really ancient tradition seem to be surviving here and there.
    Those ancient U Nialls from Donegal were a randy bunch.

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  5. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninehostages View Post
    Little snippets of really ancient tradition seem to be surviving here and there.
    In 1996, after a healing conference in Glastonbury and Street in England, I was invited to a ceremony in Stonehenge. Part of the prep for it involved driving down to Land's End
    and running the Michael/Mary lines back up to Chalice Well and then an early morning arrival at Stonehenge. At Men-An-Tol and Nine Maidens I spotted unobtrusive Bride crosses
    tied in the grasses along the paths to the stones. While I knew that some still honor the Old Path, I was surprised to see so many and so recent reminders of pilgrimage and prayer.
    Heartwarming and powerful.

    Speaking of heartwarming and powerful, doing ceremony in the center of Stonehenge was amazing. Two days before Stonehenge the Hopi elder who was to do the ceremony was
    asked to instead fly to Australia to preside at an important event with/for Aboriginal folk. I thought a local well-known practitioner had been asked to stand in, but on arrival at
    Stonehenge she told me I was doing it; whatever I felt appropriate. To be allowed to do prayer standing on a spot of soil where prayer has been done for thousands of years, and to
    feel and see how strong the energy ran, and the reaction of the folk in the circle; not possible to describe.

    Definitely remnants of ancient tradition still happening.

  6. #4
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    One of the "breaths of the Ancients" that gave me chills came to light just a few years back when they were able to pull DNA from a high status burial in the Newgrange Passage Tomb (Brú na Bóinne) in Ireland. His genome indicated that he was “the offspring of a first-order incestuous union” (born to parents who were either siblings, or parent and offspring) as in the manner of the Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs. In the 11th century, an Irish Monk recorded that the folk name for a mound on the hill was "Fertae Chuile" which was translated as "Hill of Sin" or "Hill of Incest". The burial is 5,000 years old going back to the Neolithic and yet, four thousand plus years later, there was an oral folk tradition describing this exceedingly unusual site. That's before the Bronze Age before the "white" Bell Beaker people had settled there. He must have been right nasty. That gave me a chill.
    Those ancient U Nialls from Donegal were a randy bunch.

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  8. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by tripleblessed View Post
    In 1996, after a healing conference in Glastonbury and Street in England, I was invited to a ceremony in Stonehenge. Part of the prep for it involved driving down to Land's End
    and running the Michael/Mary lines back up to Chalice Well and then an early morning arrival at Stonehenge. At Men-An-Tol and Nine Maidens I spotted unobtrusive Bride crosses
    tied in the grasses along the paths to the stones. While I knew that some still honor the Old Path, I was surprised to see so many and so recent reminders of pilgrimage and prayer.
    Heartwarming and powerful.

    Speaking of heartwarming and powerful, doing ceremony in the center of Stonehenge was amazing. Two days before Stonehenge the Hopi elder who was to do the ceremony was
    asked to instead fly to Australia to preside at an important event with/for Aboriginal folk. I thought a local well-known practitioner had been asked to stand in, but on arrival at
    Stonehenge she told me I was doing it; whatever I felt appropriate. To be allowed to do prayer standing on a spot of soil where prayer has been done for thousands of years, and to
    feel and see how strong the energy ran, and the reaction of the folk in the circle; not possible to describe.

    Definitely remnants of ancient tradition still happening.
    By the way, the Celts weren't very interested in the Solstices. Stonehenge was as old as the Roman Colosseum is to us now when they first happened on Stonehenge. That "sun rise on the Solstice" thing commemorates something millenia older than Druidic anything.
    Those ancient U Nialls from Donegal were a randy bunch.

  9. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninehostages View Post
    Stonehenge was as old as the Roman Colosseum is to us now when they first happened on Stonehenge. That "sun rise on the Solstice" thing commemorates something millenia older than Druidic anything.
    Thus my comment on standing on a spot where where prayer and ritual have been done for thousands of years. That center is very hard packed. Untold numbers have stood there, no one really knows how far back in time, but at least 5,000 years.

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  11. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Father Bill View Post
    August 1st is the anniversary of proscription in 1747 - not a particularly happy memory for Scots or Albaphiles.
    The was of course an act aimed at one scetion of Scottish society, the Gaels. In 1747 many Scots would have welcomed something that they would have viewed as an act to control both the Highlanders, and the Catholic threat.

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