Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Happy Llughnassad

known also as Lammas ,Oimelc or Candlemas

August 1

The first of 3 harvest Sabbats, a grain festival, a festival of first fruits. Corn, wheat, barley and many other grains are ready to be picked in August. Native peoples often celebrate early August as a grain festival to honour the Corn Grandmother. The ancient Romans honored their grain goddess, Ceres, at their annual August Ceresalia. The birth of the Egyptian sun goddess, Isis, was celebrated in North Africa near the time of this Sabbat, as was a Roman festival in honour of Vulcan, god of the forge and guardian of fire. In ancient Phoenicia this Sabbat honoured the grain god, Dagon. The Peruvians celebrate its harvest by turning out for a parade in their best clothes. The village elders place small handfuls of corn into everyone's pockets on the parade route.

In India the cotton harvest is given the same sacredness as other places do grains.

Because there is much more to the growing season still... this holiday holds many fertility rites and symbolisms. In synagogues, some churches and many covens a part of the August harvest is placed on the altar as an offering of thanks to the bountiful deities.

The feast of this holiday is one of the largest feasts within the wheel of the year. All fruits of the first harvest season are eaten. Breads made with natural grains, ales and libations made from grains are consumes happily, Whisky, especially because it is made with barley has been a sacred part of this celebration in Scotland for centuries. Blackberries, a plant sacred to the Irish goddess Brigid and to the Norse thunder god Thor, ripen in July and August, and gentle blackberry wines are made from them and dedicated to these deities before Mabon. Blackberry pies are a favourite of this holidays celebrations!

Breads, especially ones made with newly harvested grain, are also a traditional part of the Sabbat festivals. The baking of sacred and ritual breads is far older than you might realize, and its potent pagan symbolism has been wholeheartedly adopted by both Christianity and Judaism. It represents not only the harvest, but also Mother Earth, home and hearth. Its gentle rising as it bakes is symbolic of growing pregnancy and thriving fields.

Take time to stargaze this holiday. The August sky is renowned for it's meteor showers and shooting stars. Quietly watching for them is a beautiful way to connect with one's place in the universe.

Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Aug. 11-12

A very good shower will produce about one meteor per minute for a given observer under a dark country sky. Any light pollution or moonlight considerably reduces the count.

The August Perseids are among the strongest of the readily observed annual meteor showers, and at maximum activity nominally yield 50 or 60 meteors per hour. However, observers with exceptional skies often record even larger numbers. Typically during an overnight watch, the Perseids are capable of producing several bright, flaring and fragmenting meteors, which leave fine trains in their wake.

On the night of shower maximum, the Perseid radiant is not far from the famous "Double Star Cluster" of Perseus. Low in the northeast during the early evening, it rises higher in the sky until morning twilight ends observing. Perseid meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, but if traced backward, they all point toward Perseus, which is know as the shower's radiant.

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