Writer: Melanie Marquis
Publishing House: Llewellyn Publications
Date of Publication: June 1st 2015
Rating: 4 stars
‘’Like the promise of a rainbow, our first harvest of the season reassures us that if all continues to go well, we can expect more wholesome treasures own the road that will sustain us throughout the winter.’’
The first time I ever heard the word ‘’Lughnasadh’’ was at uni years ago. We were about to study Brian Friel’s marvelous play Dancing at Lughnasa (which I recently revisited) and I fell in love. From that moment on, I began to devour all I could find on Lughansad, Imbolc, Beltane, Samhain and all the beautiful seasonal rites of the year. I am not a Pagan (obviously) but religion and personal convictions should never stop us from craving more and more knowledge. After all (like it or not…), mythology and legends are the foundations of each people.
Also known as Lammas (England), Lughnasadh is the first of three harvest celebrations, typically held from sundown on July 31 to sundown on August 1, as Nature, our dearest Mother, generously provides her gifts to us. Known also as Lugnasad in Ireland and Lunasda or Lunasdal in Scotland, it was -and still is- a day to celebrate the bond between Nature and her children and a plethora of customs and rituals surround it. In the Outer Hebrides, it used to acquire a different character as the villagers honoured Seonaidh, a water spirit of the sea, with a ritual taking place in the night while in the Lanark area, the custom of the Riding of the Marches is still alive. Harvest festivals are celebrated throughout the world, from the USA to Africa and Russia.
I loved the historical facts commemorating the meaning of August as a very important month for the Roman calendar and the feast of Opiconsivia in honour of Ops, the fertility goddess of Plenty and the intertwining of the Pagan and Christian celebrations and customs, the references to the festival of Tullamore, in County Offaly in Ireland, the Craggaunowen Festival held in County Clare, the St. Andrew’s Lammas Fair. Obviously, the ‘’spells’’ section isn’t something I could take seriously but they were fun to read, nonetheless. The recipes were absolutely brilliant as were the rituals and invocations albeit a tiny bit far-fetched. But to each their own…In other news, corn dolls always seemed creepy to me…
I’ve never cared much for the sea. I prefer spending my dog days of summer in the mountains where the late afternoons acquire a whole new meaning. This book reminded me of the approaching evening when the sky turns a deeper blue and the moon is slowly starting to make its entrance. And I am definitely looking forward to reading the entire series.
‘’The earth is our mother; even if we’re wearing three-piece suits, driving fancy cars, and basking in carpeted, air-conditioned luxury, we’re needy children, totally depended on the earth to provide us with food, water, shelter, and clothing. Where would you be if an asteroid crashed into our planet? What would happen to you if every plant on the earth withered and died?’’